Ferrari swerved at unnecessary engine change for Charles Leclerc at Qatar Grand Prix


Ferrari’s lack of engine degradation meant they weren’t considering a new one for Charles Leclerc despite his poor grid position in Qatar.

The Monegasque driver was unable to cross Q2 during Formula 1’s first visit to the Losail international circuit, leaving him to start from 13th place on the grid.

As he was already comfortably out of position by his usual standards, Ferrari could have given it a new internal combustion engine, which would have incurred a five-seat grid penalty, or a complete new power unit that would only have sent it back just two more spots to P20 and last.

However, team principal Mattia Binotto explained that Ferrari does not suffer from degradation in engine power like other manufacturers and that the idea of ​​giving Leclerc a new engine was therefore “irrelevant. “.

Asked by Sky Italia if this had been a good opportunity for Leclerc to take on a new powertrain, Binotto replied: “It doesn’t matter to us. We introduced this upgrade on the hybrid part a few races ago. Our engine is reliable, it does not degrade with mileage. So there is no reason to change it.

In the end, Leclerc recovered to cross the P8 line, a result according to Binotto that would have gone out of reach with an engine penalty.

“If we had changed the engine it wouldn’t have reached 8th place,” he said.

Leclerc followed his teammate Carlos Sainz across the line, with that P7 and P8 finish scoring the team 10 vital points for the Constructors’ Championship.

Ferrari’s rivals for the P3 in manufacturers, McLaren, scored just two points thanks to a P9 for Lando Norris, who had raced P4 before suffering a puncture.

Sainz and Leclerc played it safe with their tires to ensure they finished in the points, leaving Binotto to think about a solid execution of their strategy.

When asked if this was a Qatari GP below Ferrari’s expectations, Binotto replied: “No, I wouldn’t say below expectations.

“Clearly P7 and P8 are not what you aspire to. But we knew it was a tough track for us for tire wear.

“This is the car with which we suffered so much wear and tear at Paul Ricard – the car hasn’t changed in that regard. But I think we learned to manage it, it’s definitely better than at Paul Ricard.

“From the first lap, we asked the drivers not to push and to try to make only one pit stop. So they braked in their driving, they pushed neither in the first stint with the medium tires nor later with the hard tires, but only 10 laps from the end when we knew that we could reach the end with the intact tires.

“And I have to say that it worked, if you look at others who kinda pushed when there’s no need to and they got a flat tire.

“So I would like to thank the team for knowing how to manage the tires. Clearly the car has a wear issue so we couldn’t push any more but the team were able to handle that and that’s on the bright side.

There was a slight setback for Ferrari in the pits, but Binotto was nonetheless encouraged by his team’s overall performance.

“The double pit-stop, unfortunately there was a problem in radio communication with Carlos, otherwise he would have been ahead of [Lance Stroll after the pit-stop and he could have attacked Esteban] Ocon at the end and get a better result, ”Binotto said.

“But apart from this radio problem, the guys handled the double pit stop very well after three races in a row, with a chassis change between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

“So I can see very well the management of the strategy, the management of the tires, the pit stops, the mechanics and even more reliability.

“And the two drivers also had a good race. What we lack now is a car fast enough to compete for better positions.

This season, P3 is the best Ferrari they can reach, but with 39.5 points ahead of McLaren, they enter the penultimate round in Saudi Arabia with an extremely healthy advantage.

This will be Formula 1’s first visit to the Jeddah Street Circuit, and Binotto believes low downforce will be the way forward on what is billed as F1’s fastest street track.

“It will be a very fast track. We did our simulations in preparation, we will also be racing with low downforce so also with a very high top speed, ”revealed the Ferrari boss.

“It will definitely be a very different track, very difficult to read and very fast. We are all very curious to go there.

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla

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