Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021

Driveshaft on Leclerc’s car not checked after crash – Binotto

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Mattia Binotto has said that the left driveshaft, which failed on Charles Leclerc’s car and prevented him starting the Monaco Grand Prix, was not checked after his qualifying crash.

Leclerc crashed heavily at the end of Q3, going right-side into the barriers after the exit of the Swimming Pool section. Before he made contact with the metal, however, he had also gone over the kerb there, visibly snapping part of the front-right suspension as his car bounced across the track.

At the time, concern was that he could have damaged the car’s gearbox, potentially incurring a grid penalty if it was replaced in parc fermé. Ferrari said that they would not “gamble” on not replacing the gearbox, if it had issues – however, when Leclerc was unable to start the race, it might have looked as though they had taken that risk.

Binotto confirmed that the problem was not in the gearbox, however. “It has not been a gearbox failure,” he told Sky. “So there was no gamble on the gearbox. And we are fully confident that the gearbox would have been okay for the race.”

He explained that the issue that prevented Leclerc starting from pole at his home grand prix was not on the side of the car heavily damaged during the crash. “We need to fully understand what happened. The failure is on the driveshaft into the hub on the left hand side. So it’s not a gearbox problem we have. The gearbox has been inspected yesterday evening, it has been rebuilt.

“What happened is on the opposite side compared to the accident. So it may be completely unrelated to the accident, but something on which we need to carefully understand and analyse and we have no answer right now.”

Binotto said that the area of the failure, at the left rear, was not part of investigations following the crash. “No, this was an area that was not checked because [it was] not damaged.”

“So let’s wait and see. I think we can only analyse the pieces carefully and the data to try to have a clear explanation. But again, what happened needs an explanation that we do not have right now. So, as I said, we need to carefully analyse.”

Reflecting on a weekend that had both been one of Ferrari’s strongest and, with Leclerc’s failure to start the grand prix, one featuring significant problems, Binotto said “You know, I think there is a lot of positives.

“First of all, over the weekend, I think the overall performance here in Monaco of the car since Thursday, the first podium with Charles with us, for Carlos [Sainz Jnr] with us, and the fact that we see as well Charles under the podium celebrating both Carlos and the team and I think that showing the right team spirit, showing how we are united, the fact that we are together trying really to build the project on solid foundation for the future.

“So certainly [Leclerc] is disappointed because he knows that he could have done a good race today and we have the pace at least to battle and to fight with Max. But that’s life and he reacted really very well by trying to really celebrating the close and being united with the team.”

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2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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51 comments on “Driveshaft on Leclerc’s car not checked after crash – Binotto”

  1. What? I was under the impression that after a crash the entire car is checked. Surely that’s the responsible thing to do.

    1. This certainly seems like the sort of thing that over the years in F1 the only team we can sort of get resigned to something like this happening is at Ferrari, with just about all other teams indeed considering it the common sense, if not the responsible thing to do to have people go over the entire drivetrain after a heavy shunt like that @carbon_fible

      Though in some ways HAAS had it easier with Schumacher’s car because it was clear it needed replacing most of everything, and while they started rebuilding earlier, at the same time they had a lot more work to do. I am pretty sure we can guess what Steiner would say internally and in public, would this have happened at HAAS.

    2. @carbon_fibre I am no F1 mechanic, but this indeed seems like the reasonable thing to do. A bit shocking that they didn’t, really.

    3. On the Finnish broadcast, Ossi Oikarinen said something along the lines that since the cars are in parc fermé, you can only check the parts you have a reason to believe have damage. Since Leclerc crashed with his right side into the fence, maybe Ferrari thought that there was no need to check the right side, or they could not prove that they should check it. Or maybe I just misheard what Ossi said and this is incorrect.

      1. And so, wouldn’t a prudent team have notified the stewards that they suspected damage in “both suspensions, all mounting points, gearbox, driveshafts, hydraulic connections….” etc?

        1. Yeah sounds sensible. I can’t imagine anybody denying Ferrari the need to check the entire drive train after that.

        2. @waptraveler FIA would probably tell you there’s no basis for suspecting damage in the front left suspension (in this case). However, they definitely had reasons to believe anything related to the gearbox/driveshafts might be affected by the crash. Sloppy work by Ferrari.

  2. Binotto has said that “driveshaft was not checked”

    Than big congratulations to Mr. Bonito. Please clap the buffoon.

  3. I’m genuinely amazed to read that… The car smacked into a wall – you check everything over after that surely!?

    1. Check the gearbox but nothing that connects into it? Binotto logic makes no sense to us mortals.

    2. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      23rd May 2021, 19:45

      I am shocked as well, after a crash like that you check everything except the drivers undies! Check everything! If I’m Binotto I’m putting in a long Saturday night looking over my mechanics shoulders not just to start a race but to make sure Leclerc has a car safe enough car to compete. What a clown that guy is.

      1. Under normal conditions, absolutely right, you check everything.
        Problem is Parc-Ferme conditions are very limiting as to what you can repair, replace, check and disassemble.
        Binotto mentioned that the gearbox was “rebuilt”, if I recall correctly, the gearbox, like a few other major components, is a sealed unit and you either replace it or live with it. There may be provision to break the seals and inspect, but no doubt if you need to replace anything or break a seal without permission … a 5 place penalty. Not likely it was “rebuilt”.
        Would be interesting to see slo-mo video of the crunch to see if there was any indication of an issue on the left side.

        1. I’m not up to speed with the checking process allowed in Parc-ferme but surely on safety grounds alone they wouldn’t be denied access to checking anything on the drive train after a crash like that would they?

      2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        23rd May 2021, 22:27

        Are stupid enough to believe that Binotto specifically told the team just to check the gearbox and nowhere else. And that was precisely Binotto’s instruction?

    3. @petebaldwin

      Ferrari are amateurs. Any top team would have checked the driveshaft… or pretty much the entire rear of the car. It’s no surprise that they can’t win championships.

  4. Ferrari is lucky that McLaren underperformed with Ric and that Sainz scored so well. With Norris performing as he is McLaren could have punished ferrari big time today

  5. Ferrari losing what might be their only chance of a win this season due to massive incompetence?

    1. Sounds like the Ferrari is in regular form.

  6. LessaizFaire
    23rd May 2021, 19:53

    Clearly not the truth. Even the Leclerc grid walk with his Sheila was incredible odd. Well, Ferrari once again seems to be more interested in Aperol Spritz and thats why i love them.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      23rd May 2021, 20:03

      I’m not sure what’s going on but that was a bizarre weekend wasn’t it. Leclerc seemed content with his weekend.

  7. failure is on the driveshaft into the hub on the left hand side

    That’s really poor. They use millions to chase tenths of a second, and then they lose 25 points not checking something that obvious?

  8. People really hate Ferrari: they’ve shown a perfect strategy to avoid a gearbox penalty and all people do is to complain about the lost chance of a Leclerc/Sainz win. Binotto clearly cant satisfy everyone.

    1. People must stop labeling criticism of their favorites as hate

  9. ‘So it may be completely unrelated to the accident (…) this was an area that was not checked because [it was] not damaged.’

    Does Binotto actually believe what he says here? If your car smashes into the barriers twice, how is F1 most experienced team’s reaction going to be: ‘We’ll just assume it’s okay and not check!’.

    Besides, plenty of cars end up not being able to start with broken driveshafts! Could’ve been completely unrelated!

  10. Kind of level of service I’d expect from the mechanic down the road. Or Ferrari, true.

    1. @david-br

      LMAO! And people wonder how they fail to fight for the championship year after year despite having everything as their disposal.

      1. @todfod Not sure about taking my punctured tyres to the Merc garage either though! I’m imagining my local tyre repair outfit saying, sorry mate, can’t return your car, it’s stuck to the tyre. :oP

  11. I can only assume he doesn’t actually mean what he has said here, everything connected to the rear axles, drive shafts, gearbox would have been thoroughly examined, the balance of the chassis being ‘straight’, everything…. all of it would have been looked at over and over.

    His English is good, I can only assume he means it wasn’t their ‘focus’.

    1. His english is not that good, remember the “ashamed” controversy, he though he was saying “a shame” but he should have said “a pity”, whatever I’m sure the person that is going to get sacked understand what left rear axle he is going to need to check. Since Leclerc didn’t start can he replace the gearbox for the next GP?

  12. Until now I was sure that Mercedes had out-clowned Ferrari this weekend. They didn’t check it because it was on the opposite side? Good grief.

    1. 😂 – It was a close competition but you’re right I believe Ferrari have just pipped it with this revelation

      1. Ahah, indeed, such a shame.

  13. Total incompetence, how did thry not check the entire car after a crash like that?

    1. In parc fermé you are not allowed to do that

      1. Then how were they allowed to check the gearbox? They even “rebuilt” it. I find binottos report confusing.

      2. You are allowed to make repairs…

  14. Sounds like my car dealership service experiences – “oh we didn’t touch that area, it must have been broken when you brought it in”.

  15. The Charles Leclerc incident reminds me of a similar one (albeit with no damage to the car) where Nico Rosberg put an end to Q3 by missing a corner and occupying the escape route. Then, being unable to extract himself from the escape
    way, q3 was red flagged preventing hamilton from beating Nico’s time.

    While following Charles reaction after hitting the first guardrail, i Failed to see any defensive moves from his part to steer with the still ok left wheel.

    Looks fishy to me, except karma caught up with him pretty fast.

    1. You might wanna check again (0:46 for tthe onboard):

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC0epPTx2mw

      He steers to the left, but the carn won’t turn (and running over the yellow kerb doesn’t help).

    2. When you try to do that kind of trick you don’t wreck the car. Schuey (surely) did it and Nico (possibly) did it but they made sure their car was intact. No way Charles would wreck his car on purpose.

      BTW in the Nico incident the yellow flag was waved but there was no red flag.

    3. It’s a bit hard to do much “defensive moves” when the front suspension is already broken from hitting the guardrail @CarID – as @casjo brings up, he was trying, but to no avail.

  16. It is a mechanical sport. After this crash you could expect some collateral (invisible) damage.

  17. Last year was tough as a Ferrari fan.

    But seeing them fight for 11th is way easier to swallow than seeing them lose an almost certain win by acting like cart mechanics…

  18. “Ferrari is and always will be stupid. It’s a fact.”

    I’ve been a Ferrari fan since 1998 but sometimes I just want to pretend they don’t exist…

    1. Ferrari has become a noob team now.

  19. Jordy
    Sorry,

    I still fail to see any movement on the left wheel. Watch again.

    In my opinion, Leclerc did it on purpose, just like Rosberg a few years ago.

  20. Typically Ferrari. They are just not good enough as a team. For decades now. Its worrying

  21. I don’t want to believe in this. Makes sense that any part attached to the rear wheels might end up broken but this is a massive ferrari blunder.
    Is this a play? Say hypothetically ferrari gambled in order to keep the pole and track position, sunday morning they concluded they shouldn’t have gambled, gearbox is broken, it is too late and it shows they were wrong not to change it and just desperate to keep pole.
    Maybe they thought, the car is broken but we want to save face so lets blame someone or some oddity, the side of the car that did not crash. Now they did not serve a penalty for a gearbox failure but by retiring the car they can change it for the next GP and nobody will know the gearbox was broken all along.

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