Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2023

No chance for Leclerc to continue after electronic problem – Vasseur

Formula 1

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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said it was not possible for Charles Leclerc to continue after a fault sent him spinning into a barrier during the formation lap prior to the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Leclerc suffered a shutdown of his car’s control systems and engine while he was driving to the starting grid ahead of yesterday’s race. He spun into a barrier and although he was briefly able to restart his power unit and continue, his car stopped again shortly afterwards.

Leclerc initially referred to a hydraulic problem on his car, but Vasseur indicated this was a symptom of a fault elsewhere.

“The system switched off the hydraulics and engine,” he said after yesterday’s race. “The reason for the command from the system we don’t know yet because the car is not back. But it was more an electronic problem.”

Although he was briefly able to drive on, “the issue is that he made 30 metres and [then] it was in the same situation that it was better to stop,” he said. “No way to recover.”

The failure on Leclerc’s car was a blow for Ferrari as he had qualified on the front row of the grid alongside Max Verstappen and they had sacrificed their performance in the previous day’s sprint race to improve their chances in the grand prix.

“It’s very frustrating for Charles and for the team,” said Vasseur. “But the issue is that also strategically all the weekend we put all the effort on the long one [race], to save new tyres we didn’t put new tyres for the race of the short one, we put everything on the long one, and we didn’t take the start.

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“For sure it’s frustrating. He was more than disappointed. But I am sure that tonight he will be back and he will be focused on Vegas.”

The team can take some encouragement from the potential it showed before Leclerc’s retirement, said Vasseur. “Now we have to stay calm to understand what’s happened to avoid any issue in the future,” he said.

“I think the pace over the weekend was not that bad, we were in a good position today. It’s a missed opportunity because we are catching up Mercedes a little bit over the weekend but with Charles on the first row, with three sets of new tyres it could have been much better.”

Had Leclerc been able to take the start a podium finish “would have been possible,” Vasseur believes. “If you consider that we were also [racing] with three set of new [tyres], starting in clean air but the two Astons didn’t have a great start.

“But you know this kind of position is just bullshit. Racing is racing, you don’t have to race with ‘if, if, if.’ It is like it is.”

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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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2 comments on “No chance for Leclerc to continue after electronic problem – Vasseur”

  1. Leclerc suffered a shutdown of his car’s control systems and engine

    Is that the McLaren supplied system? It’s very unusual for there to be any issues with that spec part (Pirelli take note).

    1. MichaelN,
      The ECU which is normally responsible for controlling the engine’s operation is a standard part supplied by McLaren Applied while the Control Electronics (CE) which is responsible for managing a wide range of different systems in the car that includes the gearbox, energy recovery system, power management, and other auxiliary systems is proprietary to the team or other third party supplier.

      In 2010, Ferrari experienced several failures with its V8 engines, affecting not only their own team but also their customer teams, Toro Rosso and Sauber. Peter Sauber was furious about it. These issues were traced back to the ECU according to Ferrari who discreetly raised concerns to the FIA . Subsequently, they implemented a “reliability” upgrade to resolve the problem.

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