Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Electrical failure cost Leclerc fourth place, say Ferrari

2020 Spanish Grand Prix

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A fourth-place finish was on the cards for Charles Leclerc before an electrical problems forced him out, according to Ferrari.

Leclerc was running 11th and had made what was scheduled to be his only pit stop of the race when his power unit switched off approaching the turn 14/15 chicane. He spun and retired in the pits a few laps later.

Ferrari believe his one-stop strategy would have allowed him to finish between the two Racing Points – one-stopping Sergio Perez in fourth and two-stopping Lance Stroll in fifth – and Perez’s five-second penalty would have given Leclerc fourth.

“Charles looked after his tyres well in the first stint and managed to go to lap 29, thus in the window to switch to a one-stop, given that he had a set of new mediums to use,” explained Ferrari’s head of racing strategy Inaki Rueda.

“In fact once Pierre Gasly, who’d been ahead of him, had stopped, Charles had a clear track ahead of him and was able to push. At this point, given that he was running at a good pace, we asked him to try to go to at least lap 28, which we knew was essential for the change of strategy to work and so it was.

“Charles soon dispensed with Daniil Kvyat and got in behind Lando Norris. He was much quicker than him at that point in the race and we were certain that some drivers up ahead would be making a second stop and some others would really struggle to make it to the end.

“In fact, only Sergio Perez made the same choice as us, and given the penalty he was given, that’s how Charles could reasonably have finished fourth. Unfortunately, a control unit failure put an end to that goal.”

Leclerc’s team mate Sebastian Vettel finished the race seventh after making a single pit stop.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “Electrical failure cost Leclerc fourth place, say Ferrari”

  1. I tend to agree with them. I think that is why RP should have let Perez pass Stroll to build a bigger gap to have a chance of staying ahead, instead of having to sit behind Stroll for many laps while the gap ahead of them grew. They were never punished for that since Albon got the bad end of the strategy and Leclerc dropped out.

  2. Ferrari are experts at saying what “woulda” happened if they hadn’t stuffed up.

    They ignore the fact that – if Leclerc continued to run – other teams would have behaved differently. You can also be guaranteed that Ferrari “woulda” completely ignored Vettel and thus hurt his race even more than they already did by pitting him so early.

    1. And they forget the fact that Lec was using his car as 4×4 off track excursions and taking a lot of curbs. Abusing the car to extremes. So he probably caused his own failure.

      1. Yeah.

        I think Lec’ tussle with Norris a lap earlier, when he went off track, is what caused his electrics to shut down. He probably broke something on the rumble strips going off track which caught up with him a lap later.

    2. don’t forget ferrari is the culprit of global warming.

  3. What if Vettel stopped much later for his first stop instead of pitting on the same lap as CL? He was on mediums after all and CL on softs. If Ferrari didn’t screw up his strategy, then it is most likely that Vettel is the one that would be fourth or even higher

    1. @blutto Vettel’s pace on mediums was actually waning towards the end of his first stint. He was racing Ricciardo in the first stint, and look at what happened to the Aussie. Renault kept him out for too long and when he pitted he could only manage to find himself in traffic behind Albon, Gasly and Norris. Ferrari decided to pit Vettel when he had a window of clean air to run in early on in his second stint, and ended up in front of that gaggle. This is Barcelona, overtaking is tough and track position is key and more important than running long and hoping to make overtakes later.
      Whipping Ferrari’s strategists has been a really fashionable thing to do of late. At the second Silverstone race, Seb nixed his own strategy by spinning on the first lap, and had to get out his hards because he was stuck behind traffic. Doing the longer medium stint at the end was easier because of lower fuel loads and falling track temps, plus it allowed him to undercut Sainz.
      If there’s one issue I have with Ferrari’s pitwall, it’s how indecisive the race engineers seem to be. There are clear communication issues happening between Vettel and his race engineers, while even Charles was struggling to get through to his race engineer who was stammering and stuttering when the engine issue was reported. Compare this to Bono, and you see the clear difference in terms of the confidence and initiative taken by race engineers while communicating everything clearly and still accommodating the driver being high on adrenaline.

      1. “Vettel’s pace on mediums was actually waning towards the end of his first stint.” That’s not what the lap chart says. He was on same pace as CL with no drop offs.
        Vettel was supposedly on a 2 stop strategy – Mediums then Softs. It was never intended for Vettel to drive with used softs for 38 laps in his last stint on a 1 stopper. Where would he had ended with a 2 stopper then? Wont he still end up behind the Albon, Gasly and Norris train?
        “Whipping Ferrari’s strategists has been a really fashionable thing to do of late” No. Not of late. They had sucked for quite a while now. At least for the past 5 years, Ferrari’s race strategy has been subpar at best.
        For the second Silverstone race, Ferrari made matters worse by calling him in for a pitstop after Vettel’s spin. His tyres was fine (watched the clip on Autosport) and he could go on to a 1 stop strategy
        “We are not sacrificing Seb,” Binotto insisted afterwards. “We thought at the time it would make no difference to him stopping earlier or later (say what???). I think reviewing all the data, eventually by leaving Seb on track we may have left at least the one-stop strategy open to him as well. We didn’t.”

        Lets face it. Vettel has no chance of beating CL on track this season. Even if he has the car to do it…Ferrari simply wont let him face off with CL. Its quite understandable for Ferrari to prioritize CL since this is Vettel’s last season with them and he might be joining a competitor team next season. But Ferrari could have handled this mess in a much more delicate and empathizing manner.

    2. It’s obvious that Ferrari will not willingly do anything that will help Vettel finish ahead of Leclerc. Quite the reverse.

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