Leclerc is probably regretting this joke he made about Ferrari’s power unit

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have both suffered reliability failures in the last four rounds of the season.

“There is something strange with the engine.” These were the playful words of Charles Leclerc in the dying stages of the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix as he won the opening round of the year.

It came after a reliability failure had cost him victory in the same race three years ago as Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas passed him for a Mercedes one-two but, thankfully, engineer Xavi Marcos was well aware that the Monegasque was only pulling his leg.

But, for those who may believe in superstitions, did Leclerc tempt fate in Sakhir that night?

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The 24-year-old would go on to take victory in Australia after Max Verstappen, as had happened to both himself and team-mate Sergio Perez in Bahrain, retired from the race with a reliability failure.

For all intents and purposes, it looked as though the championship would be Ferrari’s to lose from that point, but Red Bull were always going to find their feet eventually, and they certainly did.

The upgrades introduced at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix have helped the Milton Keynes side take each of the last six race wins between Verstappen and Perez, and their race pace has been enough to overturn four of Leclerc’s six pole positions this year.

Pace, sadly for the Scuderia, has not been their only issue though; the gremlins returned to their car in Barcelona when the Monegasque retired from the race having been dominating from pole with an MGU-K issue.

He and team-mate Carlos Sainz would both end up out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with separate problems, and the power unit change for Leclerc that was necessitated by his recent mechanical woes earned him a grid penalty in Canada.

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He recovered from 19th to fifth as Verstappen claimed his sixth win of the season, narrowly beating Sainz after the Spaniard’s late charge, and Leclerc enjoyed passing the Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon at the end having struggled in DRS trains for the first part of the race.

“The last part was nice but obviously the very first part I was stuck in a DRS train and I could not do anything,” he told Sky Sports.

“Then in the middle part of the race I found myself stuck behind Esteban who had much newer tyres.

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“So out of Turn 10 where the tyres are actually making the difference, he had very good traction and that was enough for him to keep me behind all the time.

“It was just about being patient and thinking about the end of the race.”

While it was another winless weekend for Ferrari, they can take some silver lining from the fact that Perez encountered a gearbox failure in Montreal, putting him out of the race.

The Scuderia reduced Red Bull’s lead in the Constructors’ Championship to 76 points as a result, but Verstappen’s win now leaves him 46 points clear in the drivers’ battle from team-mate Perez, with Leclerc a further three points behind.

It is worth remembering that the 24-year-old led by a similar margin after the Australian Grand Prix in April, and there are still 13 rounds remaining of the 2022 season.

Two of those will feature sprint races, so it remains all to play for in the hunt for the titles this year.