Formula 1 Racing

Ferrari fixing “bad situation” with early 2023 F1 engine problems

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

Leclerc dopped out of the season opener while running third behind the dominant Red Bull cars, having taken fresh control electronics and energy store engine parts ahead of Bahrain GP.

Ferrari opted to fit a third control electronics part for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian event and Leclerc will take a 10-place grid penalty in Jeddah for already exceeding the season limit of two allowances of that part.

That decision leaves Sainz as Ferrari’s best hope to battle Red Bull at the high-speed track that should, in theory, suit the SF-23’s reconfigured aerodynamic concept aimed at boosting straight line efficiency.

But even if Sainz can keep pace with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on Sunday, there will be significant focus on whether his engine will last the distance – a situation he said Ferrari is “relatively concerned” about during the pre-event press conference in Jeddah.

“It’s not the way you want to start a season – with a penalty in race two,” Sainz explained. “Breaking the battery, the ECU, in the first weekend, clearly we are not happy with that and we identified it as a weakness.

“But it’s the first time we’ve seen this failure in a very, very long time. So, it caught us by surprise.

“We’re putting things in place to fix it and I’m pretty sure that we are capable of fixing that in the short term.

“So, it’s a bad situation but now we can only look forwards and improve it and make sure that we are also more competitive this weekend.”

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

When asked if Ferrari was expecting to be in the podium battle this weekend, Sainz replied: “I want to think so, yeah.

“The track is completely different to Bahrain. The [asphalt], the high-speed nature, the wing level that we will run – everything is just a bit different compared to Bahrain. I have the feeling that we’re going to be a bit more competitive.

“Enough to beat the Red Bulls? Given how competitive and how strong they were in Bahrain, it’s going to be extremely difficult.

“But I want to be more optimistic after Bahrain and feel like this weekend we have a good chance to get back on the podium.”

Reflecting on Ferrari’s disappointing Bahrain result, where it could not keep pace with Red Bull due to poor tyre wear levels even before Leclerc dropped off the podium, Sainz suggested Red Bull’s 2022 turnaround from a double…

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