Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will face a 10-place grid penalty in Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The penalty comes after Ferrari replaced the Energy Store and Control Electronics on Leclerc’s engine following his retirement in the opening race of the season in Bahrain.
This means that he will go over the allocation of two ECUs per season without penalty when the team fits a third for the race in Jeddah.
Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur revealed the reason behind the penalty: “On Sunday, we had two different issues. The first one was on Sunday morning when we did the fire up, and the second one was in the race. Unfortunately, it was two times the control unit, the ECU.” Vasseur added that the team had never experienced such issues in the past, and they were working to resolve it. However, the team will have to take the penalty in Jeddah as they only have a pool of two control units for the season.
The penalty puts the spotlight on Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz, who finished fourth behind Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin in the opening race. Sainz will now have to step up to try and achieve a podium finish in Jeddah.
This is not the start Ferrari was hoping for in the new season. The team has seen its early hopes of competing in 2022 fizzle out, and they have just started a new era under Vasseur following the resignation of Mattia Binotto.
Leclerc, who was third behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez when he retired from the opening race of the season, will be hoping to put this setback behind him and bounce back in the remaining races of the season. It will be a tough task for the Monegasque driver, as Red Bull’s Verstappen looks set to challenge reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton for the title this season.
Despite this setback, Ferrari remains optimistic about its chances in the upcoming races. They have a strong driver lineup, and their car has shown promise in pre-season testing. If they can resolve their issues and make the most of their opportunities, they could be in for a successful season.