Ferrari make worrying admission about engine reliability in France

Charles Leclerc took his seventh pole position of the season at the French Grand Prix.

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies has conceded that the team are worried about the possibility of further reliability issues after Carlos Sainz’s retirement in Austria.

The Scuderia suffered their fourth failure of the season when the Spaniard exited the race in fiery fashion, denying the team their second one-two of the year as Charles Leclerc won.

The Monegasque was forced to take a penalty in Canada after retirements in Spain and Baku, and the same fate has befallen Sainz this weekend, with the 27-year-old starting the French Grand Prix 19th.

The issues for the Maranello-based side are having a detrimental impact on their title aspirations, and it leads to a sense of nervousness among the side throughout races too.

READ: Carlos Sainz on Ferrari making Charles Leclerc their number 1 driver: ‘You always respect your team-mate more’

Both of Leclerc’s retirements came while he was leading the race and, with the five-time race winner starting from pole for Sunday’s grand prix, Mekies conceded that there is apprehension at Ferrari.

“It is always at the back of your mind, if you have a few failures from the race lead, you will not forget about them very easily,” he told Sky Sports after qualifying.

“We have lost a few races like that this year. It is a long cycle to get on top of these issues, we know it is not something we can fix overnight so everybody is very united to try to deal with it as best as we can right now.

“Yes, it is in the back of our minds but hopefully it is something we will be dealing with better and better.”

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Typically this season, Ferrari have been quicker in qualifying, taking eight pole positions to Red Bull’s four.

READ: Charles Leclerc thanks Carlos Sainz as he prepares to keep Max Verstappen at bay

However, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have taken a combined seven race wins for the Milton Keynes-based side due to their superior race pace.

Leclerc will be fighting both Red Bull’s during the race with Sainz starting at the back, so the French Grand Prix will be a fascinating prospect.

“It has been a trend that we have been running slightly more downforce and therefore more drag compared to them,” explained Mekies.

“Each competitor looks at the characteristics of their car and tries to put it in the best performance window.

“That is where we felt our best performance window was and straight off it is easy to see, you may get better tyre degradation with downforce but we are more exposed. 

“It has played to our advantage and against us this year. We will find out tomorrow.”

Leclerc is chasing his fourth win of the season, while Ferrari are aiming to take three wins in a row for the first time since 2019.