Ferrari have confirmed Charles Leclerc suffered an MGU-H and turbo failure in Barcelona as the malfunction blew his chances of winning the Spanish Grand Prix. The Monegasque driver, who has been a revelation this season, topped every practice session to take pole before disaster struck and wrecked his dream of a third victory of the campaign. But a penalty could be on the horizon which would seriously dent Leclerc’s title hopes.
After Max Verstappen recorded back-to-back victories in Imola and Miami, Leclerc was looking to fire back with his upgraded F1-75 to keep his title bid on track.
But in Lap 27, Leclerc’s car slowed right down due to a problem with the turbo.
His Dutch rival would ruthlessly capitalise to build a six-point lead over Leclerc, who has work to do if he is to reign supreme with Red Bull now also leading the Constructors’ Championship.
Following a thorough inspection in Maranello, Ferrari have now confirmed it was the turbo and MGU-H that let up in Barcelona – meaning they will now be forced into another change in Monaco.
A team statement read: “Having examined the PU from Leclerc’s car, we found the turbo and MGU-H are damaged and cannot be repaired.
“However, having fully analysed the failure and its cause, we are satisfied it did not occur through a design fault or reliability issue with these two components or any other elements of the PU.”
Ferrari are adamant that the malfunctions occurred due to reasons beyond their control but now Leclerc is facing problems ahead of the rest of the season.
Should his team be forced to roll out changes to their car ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, they will be out of changes for the rest of the campaign.
Speaking after the race in Barcelona, Leclerc was under no illusions that the problems could haunt Ferrari later in the season.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s a real shame. In those moments I feel like there is nothing more I can do apart from looking at the positives and there are plenty this weekend.
“We will look at this issue and we cannot afford for this to happen many times in the season.”
The 24-year-old was left stunned when his car slowed down and could be heard over the team radio shouting: “No no no I lost power! What happened? What happened? I lost power.”
During the race, Sky Sports commentator Ted Kravitz added: “Shock on the Ferrari pit wall. Charles Leclerc could scarcely believe it. He’s distraught.”
Meanwhile, Martin Brundle knew the moment was of huge significance, particularly for Verstappen: “That’s a big moment for the world championship.”
Last season’s world champion is now six points clear of second-placed Leclerc after winning his fourth race of the season.
Yet with Ferrari braced to use their third and final change, Red Bull will feel they’re now in the ascendancy in their quest to retain the world championship.