Lack of consistency in Ferrari engine a worry for Leclerc
Charles Leclerc expressed concern about Ferrari’s engine reliability even as he celebrated returning to the top of the Formula One podium for the first time since April on Sunday.
The Monegasque’s Austrian Grand Prix victory was his third in 11 races this season, lifting him to second in the championship but a hefty 38 points behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
“I definitely needed that one. I mean, the last five races have been incredibly difficult for myself, but also for the team, obviously,” he said.
“It just felt like everything was against me. So, finally we had a breakthrough good race today (Sunday) and it really feels good to have a win again.”
While Leclerc was delighted to end a tough run of races, and relieved to finish as a throttle problem emerged in the closing laps, Ferrari literally blew a one-two finish when Carlos Sainz’s engine expired.
Leclerc said that lack of consistency, with Sainz a winner in Britain last weekend, was worrying for a team chasing their first title since 2008.
“It is definitely a concern, so we need to look into that and make sure that it doesn’t happen,” he said when asked about the failure. “Obviously it happened twice on my side in the last five races and now Carlos again. So yeah, we need to get on top of this as quickly as possible.”
Leclerc won two of the first three races of the season but then suffered engine-related retirements in Spain and Azerbaijan. Sainz has had four retirements so far this season.
“It looks to be the story of my season: as soon as we get a bit of momentum, there is something that goes wrong and it’s difficult to continue with it,” said the Spaniard, whose Silverstone win was his first in F1.
Podium finishers Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were handed suspended 10,000 euro ($10,000) fines on Sunday for a breach of post-race procedures.
Race stewards summoned Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes representatives after the podium celebrations following a report from the race director. They said video evidence had confirmed the drivers’ physios and/or drivers’ assistants had entered parce ferme, the closed pit lane area, without permission and in violation of an established procedure.
The ban on them entering the area is to ensure no items are handed to drivers before they are weighed.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has called on Formula One’s governing body to protect drivers from breathing in harmful carbon brake dust during races.
The Aston Martin driver was asked about the dust on his face, after removing his helmet, as he spoke to Sky Sports television after the race on Sunday.
“That’s something I think they need to work on because the design of the brake ducts this year, the front axle is blowing all the brake dust into our faces and it’s not good,” he replied.
“Carbon dust is not really something healthy to breathe in. I hope the FIA looks into this very soon because it’s pointless and easy to change.”