Charles Leclerc believes the two control electronic units he lost at the Bahrain Grand Prix cannot be repaired, meaning his grid penalty this weekend is unlikely to be the last of the year.
The Ferrari driver retired from the season-opening race in Bahrain due to a failure in his power unit. The team had swapped the control electronics and energy store on his car prior to the race.
As Leclerc will take a third set of control electronics in the second round this weekend, exceeding the maximum of two per season, he faces an automatic 10-place grid drop. He believes the previous sets cannot be repaired and reused, meaning any further examples he requires later in the 23-race season will incur additional penalties.
“We had two control unit problems in Bahrain, which means that we need to take a penalty,” he told Sky. “We understand these problems but as a result I obviously need to take a penalty because I don’t think they are reusable. We don’t have the confirmation yet, but I don’t think so.”
Leclerc would have to go the entire season without requiring a fresh set of control electronics to avoid a further penalty. Last year 12 of the 20 drivers exceeded their allocations of two sets of control electronics units.
However Leclerc said he is not worried about a possible recurrence of the Bahrain failure this weekend. “The team has told me that they understood the issue,” he said.
Ferrari lagged well off the pace of Red Bull in Bahrain. Leclerc is hopeful his car will be more competitive this weekend in Jeddah, where tyre degradation is lower and there are few slow corners.
“I think it might fit our car a little bit better on paper,” he said. “But we never know because Red Bull also have a very flexible car and they can change the car quite a lot from Bahrain to here and be extremely competitive here too.
“Our weakness in Bahrain was clearly the race pace in general and the tyre degradation. On that we’ve been working a lot and I’m sure that it will be a step forward compared to Bahrain, and it’s also not as big of a problem [here] as Bahrain in terms of tyre degradation. So that should help us help us.
“On the other hand, I’ve got a 10 grid places penalty, so it will be a bit more difficult for me. But I’ll do absolutely everything to have a good start and hopefully come back at the front as quickly as possible.”
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