Mattia Binotto clarified that gearbox was not an issue for Charles Leclerc in F1 Monaco GP, as a driveshaft issue caught them out in a DNS.
Post the heavy shunt for Leclerc in F1 Monaco GP in qualifying after putting the Ferrari on pole, the biggest fear for the Monegasque and the Italian outfit was the damage suffered to its gearbox, which is suited on the right side of the car, where he crashed on.
Initial checks on Saturday was all-clear from Ferrari, while they changed parts of the damaged side. The Sunday pre-race check saw no dramas as well, until Leclerc went on the lap to the grid, where he complained of an issue, which forced him to pits.
Upon checks, Ferrari revealed that they had an issue with the driveshaft on the left side of the car – which wasn’t hit in the crash. It was too much to fix for even a pitlane start, as Leclerc was forced to sit out of his home grand prix, where was to start on pole.
While the social media jumped on Ferrari for not being a bit cautious to change the gearbox, it was later noted that the gearbox had no trouble, whatsoever. In fact, Binotto told TV media that the team were confident to complete the race without a failure.
Binotto noted that they had not checked the left side of the car as it wasn’t damaged. The investigation is on to find out the root cause of how it broke. “We need to fully understand what happened,” he said to TV media. “The failure was on the driveshaft onto the hub on the left side, so it is not the gearbox problem we had.
“It was inspected on Saturday as it was revealed and somehow the gearbox was ok for the race. What happened is on the opposite side to what happened in the accident. So, it maybe completely unrelated to the accident, but something on which we need to carefully understand and analyse.
“[Whether we took a gamble to not change gearbox?] As I said, it isn’t a gearbox failure, so there was no gamble on the gearbox and we are fully confident that gearbox would have been fully ok for the race. But again, whatever had happened will need an explanation, which we don’t have right now.
“This [the left side driveshaft] was the area not checked because it was not damaged,” summed up Binotto, as Leclerc noted that initially he thought it to be a gearbox issue as well, but later on understood that it wasn’t that, which was tough pill to swallow.
“As soon as I felt the issue I said ‘I think there is a problem with the gearbox’ but actually it seems that it’s something else,” said Leclerc. “So we need to check. Obviously I’m pretty sure it correlates with my crash, but we will try and understand from where it’s coming from exactly. They say it was coming from the rear left, but I don’t know what exactly [failed]. We will have to see.
“In the garage it was very, very difficult to feel okay, but I’m getting used to this feeling here. I’ve never finished a race here, this year I don’t even start it [when slated to] start from pole. It’s difficult but I also feel for the team. The mechanics have done such a great job, and the mechanics were finally a bit happy this morning, and then this happened.
“So it’s a shame for everyone,” summed up Leclerc, whose Monaco record now stands as DNF (classified P18 despite crash), DNF and DNS – without 2020 – in F1, while the F2 record of one weekend stands as double DNF, again classified P18 in Race 2.
The pre-race note from the FIA listed the below parts to have been changed by Ferrari on the car of Leclerc – all on the right side:
Front wing/nose assembly
RHS front corner assembly
RHS rear corner assembly
Front and rear brake friction material
RHS turning vane
Rear wing assembly
Here’s the full video for sequence: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-monaco-grand-prix-gearbox-issue-forces-leclerc-to-retire-pre-race.1700552915463155269.html
Here’s how F1 Monaco GP panned out