Ferrari have confirmed that a terminal issue with the MGU-H was the cause of Charles Leclerc’s retirement from the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend.
After taking pole on Saturday with a scintillating lap, Leclerc looked to be leading comfortably, and re-joined comfortably ahead of the rest of the pack following his stop on lap 22.
Seven laps later though, he was out of the race due to an issue with the engine, spelling Ferrari’s first reliability gremlins of the year.
The Italian side took the engine back to Maranello on Monday to dissect the problem, and found that both the Turbo and the MGU-H – which takes heat from the engine to power the Turbo – are irreparably damaged.
“Having examined the PU from Leclerc’s car, we found the turbo and MGU-H are damaged and cannot be repaired,” read a statement.
“However, having fully analysed the failure and its cause, we are satisfied it did not occur through a design fault or reliability issue with these two components or any other elements of the PU.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto divulged that there had been no prior warning that a failure was about to occur.
“It was a sudden issue. I think we learned it first from Charles, first going on to the radio, and then from the engineers looking at the data so it was really sudden,” said the Italian.
Leclerc also stated after the race that he had no clue what had transpired in the back of his F1-75, but took the positives from what was an otherwise strong weekend for the Scuderia.
“I don’t know anything more than what happened basically,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“I had no indications before, and it just broke and then I lost power completely.
“It’s a shame, in those moments I believe that there is nothing else I can do apart from looking at the positives and there are plenty this weekend.
“There is the qualifying pace, the race pace and most importantly the tyre management, that has been a weakness in the last two races.
“I think we definitely found something this weekend on that, so it gives me the confidence for the rest of the season but on the other hand we will look at this issue and we cannot afford for this to happen many times during the season.
“So we need to find the problem.”
Leclerc’s non-finish opened the door for Max Verstappen to take the lead of the Drivers’ Championship for the first time this season by leading home Sergio Perez for a Red Bull one-two.
But a defiant Monegasque is more focused on the pace of his car than the standings at present, and aims to translate his current performance into a victory this weekend in Monaco.
“That’s fine, I’m not looking at it,” explained Leclerc.
“I think what is the most important is the overall performance and performance-wise we are performing very well.
“So, I can’t wait to go at home next week and hopefully we’ll have a great result.”
Red Bull also took over from Ferrari in the lead of the constructors’ battle by 26 points after another difficult day for Carlos Sainz, who finished fourth following a spin.