Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Ferrari: Cylinder fault, not MGU-H, caused Leclerc’s engine problem

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Ferrari is investigating the cause of the power unit problem which cost Charles Leclerc victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix and has already ruled out two possible causes.

“It was not a mechanical problem with the engine otherwise we would not have finished the race,” team principal Mattia Binotto told RaceFans and other media after the race.

He also rejected claims a problem with Leclerc’s MGU-H was responsible for him losing performance in the final 12 laps of the race. “I don’t know where the rumours come from but there was nothing wrong with the MGU-H,” he said.

Binotto confirmed Leclerc suffered “miscombustion on one cylinder” during the final laps of the race.

“When something like that happens you try to move on the recovery in terms of any combustion control mapping that you may do,” he explained. “At least, you try to change mappings, you try to change settings, just make sure [if] on-track it is any better. That was not the case today so we had to manage the race.”

Despite losing up to six seconds per laps Leclerc was still able to finish third, partly thanks to the appearance of the Safety Car towards the end of the race.

“That I think has been a brave decision to continue racing in those conditions,” said Binotto. “At the end it was a third place, which was important, so finally probably the right decision.”

Leclerc’s engine will be returned to the team’s factory for inspection but Binotto expects they will use it again at the next round in two weeks’ time.

“The engine was running at the end of the race so it is still able to run,” he said. “We will use it certainly on Friday in China. We’ve got an entire Friday to assess its behaviour, its functionality and its performance.”

Binotto expects the fault will have a straightforward fix and is not related to how the team runs its engine.

“I think what happened, even if we have not a clear understanding now and we are still looking into it, it is a single problem that will be easily addressed. So it’s not related to the way we’re using the engine mapping or whatever. It has to be, let me say, a single component failure. We’ll find out.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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  • 23 comments on “Ferrari: Cylinder fault, not MGU-H, caused Leclerc’s engine problem”

    1. Binotto confirmed Leclerc suffered “miscombustion on one cylinder” during the final laps of the race.

      So it dropped a cylinder, I suppose that’s not exotic enough for a F1 Ferrari is it :))

      “That I think has been a brave decision to continue racing in those conditions,” said Binotto

      Brave? Talk about a wild over statement. I can see some pretty over the top statements coming out of Ferrari this yr.

      1. they will replace the engine and say it was just a spark plug… but we had to change in case we missed something…

      2. @johnrkh@mysticus no race engine would take 12 laps, 11,000 rpm, to fail, not knowing what’s wrong you should pit to avoid losing an entire PU, initially it did looked a lot like the Ricciardo problem in monaco, except charles was pulling okay from the corners therefore no battery issue. The old simplified suzuka spark plug excuse might crop up, injection system also would make a lot of sense.

    2. “I don’t know where the rumours come from but there was nothing wrong with the MGU-H,” he said.

      Err… It was broadcast to anyone who was listening by Leclerc’s race engineer – “We have no ‘H’ recovery”. Binotto needs to turn his radio up.

      1. If the engine is not producing the desired output, it surely can affect any energy recovery modes set prior.

        1. It might reduce it a bit but the MGU-H is connected to the Turbo so I doubt a lower engine output would have totally eliminated the energy recovery. Plus @Dave F was clearly responding the the fact that Ferrari have no idea where the rumours came from yet it is quite obvious where the rumours came from…

          1. If they truly had a misfiring cylinder (although I would think we’d have heard that on the onboard shots), then the pressure on the turbo would be down 1/6th under the best of circumstances– more when they’re doing cylinder deactivation (which I think the current engines do, but I’m not positive).

            I wouldn’t think it would totally shut down the MGU-H, though, and engineers tend to speak precisely– “We have no H recovery” doesn’t imply a partial loss of MGU-H recovery.

            I suspect the reason Binotto wants it classified as rumor is because F1 is like the intelligence community– never let anyone know the truth, and if they do know the truth, mislead them.

      2. @dave-f :) All going very Ferrari-like this season already then.

    3. Ferrari’s explanations can be amusing.

      Jenks reported, many years ago, that one of their cars retired with what the team described as ‘alternator failure’.

      When the car was recovered to the pits, Jenks reported that the reason for the alternator failure was readily apparent – a connecting rod had punched a hole through the cylinder block and smashed it.

      1. Luckily their rear left or right tyres are not off by 1.5psi :)

      2. @gnosticbrian, I am slightly dubious as to whether that is really true, because it is a popular tale that has been told many times in slightly different variants (such as one driver being told that there was an “oil leak”, and supposedly replying “yes, and it’s leaking out of this hole that the piston punched through the block”).

        I wouldn’t be surprised, therefore, if that old story by Jenkinson might have been playing into that long running joke than being a serious story.

    4. It was not a mechanical problem with the engine

      It has to be, let me say, a single component failure

      So it’s a ‘non-mechanical component’ :-!

      1. @coldfly it has the air! too much air cylinders worked hard and one had to give way… :) air fits the description of non mechanical…

    5. All will be revealed on March 32nd. It always is.

    6. At the end of the race, just before the podium, Lewis asked leclerc what happened but the sky commentator decided to talk over their conversation so I couldn’t make out the response.

    7. This is not a good start from the new Ferrari team boss. In Australia he waffled and was clearly covering up a problem, and here he is straight misleading.

      The charging strobe lights were not working on the car and so it was not charging the battery. That is not caused by dropping one cylinder.

      So we now have a Ferrari boss who talks to the media but is not straight with them or us.

      1. There was at least one corner where they were working, but flashing as Leclerc existed it, which is very strange.

    8. A PS to my post. Unless Ferrari have a very odd charging map dropping one cylinder might reduce the charging but surely not stop it as the turbo is still giving out heat for the “MGU-H”. To do so purposefully with an odd map would just redouble the problem. As it did if that was what happened.

      1. It’s simple. The one cylinder that performs all the battery charging failed. The MGU-H is tasked to ‘assist’ that one cylinder, but with the single component failing, couldn’t complete its task despite there was not a mechanical problem with the single component failing. As we’ll find out.

    9. At least Leclerc got to finish on the podium instead of retiring or just finishing in the points. They didn’t decide to retire the car and the safety car was a timely help.

    10. Sounds fishy still…

      That engine sounded like 6 firing cylinders. It would be massively noticeable if it was running on 5? Fuel issue?

      Doesn’t help that Mattia Binotto couldn’t run a bath, let alone communicate with people

    11. So it’s a ‘non-mechanical component’ :-!

      like a drinks holder?

    Comments are closed.