In a very sudden turn of events, Charles Leclerc crashed during the formation lap at the Brazilian Grand Prix. The exact reason as to why was initially thought to be a hydraulic failure, but it seems to be an electronics issue. Though it seems that further investigation is required.
Leclerc was starting second before spinning into the barriers. He was quick on the radio to say, “No! I lost the hydraulics, I lost the hydraulics. Why am I so unlucky?”
When speaking to the media after the incident, Leclerc explained that he “went into the corner and I lost the power steering and then the engine cut off for safety reasons. Then the rear wheels locked up and that made me spin, so I had no control over the car at any point.”
Neither Leclerc nor team principal, Frederic Vasseur, would go into explicit detail, but they admitted that is a deeper issue here that shutdown all the car’s systems.
“It’s a system issue where the system shut off the hydraulics and engine,” Vasseur explained.
“The result of the [issue] from the system we don’t know yet because the car is not back, but it was more an electronic problem.”
It did look that Leclerc might start the race again from the pit lane, but Vasseur explained that Leclerc had “started to switch off and switch on” to try breathe life into the car, but “the issue is he made 30 metres and then found himself in the same situation so it was better to stop.”
Ferrari was in a good spot for the race with a podium certainly on the table. The team even sacrificed the sprint to put themselves in a better position for tyres in the race, making this loss even more painful than it already is.
“It’s very frustrating for Charles and for the team,” Vasseur added.
“But the issue is that strategically over the weekend we put all the effort into the long run to save tyres – we didn’t use new tyres for the short one, we didn’t use new tyres for the race of the short one, we put everything on the long one and we didn’t take the start.”
This is bad news for Ferrari’s Constructors’ Championship hopes to take P2 from Mercedes. Ferrari only closed the gap by four points after Brazil and still trail by 20 points with only two races to go. Once again, despite Carlos Sainz taking home P6, it was still a missed opportunity for Ferrari.
“We were in a good position today and it’s a missed opportunity because we were catching up Mercedes a little bit over the weekend, but with Charles on the front row with three sets of new tyres it could have been much better,” Vasseur said.
“We still have two attempts in Vegas and Abu Dhabi. Vegas could be a chaotic one, and if we have the same pace as this weekend and Mercedes has the same pace as this weekend we have an opportunity.”