Frederic Vasseur says Ferrari did not expect the issue that forced Charles Leclerc to retire from F1 Bahrain GP despite showing promising pace.
Ferrari adopted a strange strategy on Saturday when they gave up the fight for pole after just the one run with Leclerc which surprised many. The idea was to save a set of tyres and use a fresh one on Sunday against both the Red Bull cars.
It kind of worked when Leclerc jumped Sergio Perez at the start of F1 Bahrain GP. He didn’t stay with Max Verstappen for long who pulled out a decent gap. But lap time wise, he was with both the Red Bull cars, even when Carlos Sainz started to lose out more.
But eventually Leclerc lost out to Perez as Red Bull managed to run soft-soft-hard strategy with ease as opposed to Ferrari’s soft-hard-hard choice. Third was looking promising until the power unit switched off the Monegasque in a big disappointment.
The team will be anaylsing what went wrong with it at Maranello but it puts a huge question mark on the reliability. Already before the grand prix, they took a new Control Electronics and Energy Store for Leclerc as a precautionary measure.
After the troubles last year, this puts Ferrari in a difficult position. “Honestly, we don’t know yet what happened actually,” said Vasseur to media when asked about the potential issue. “This morning we changed the parts, we don’t know where it is coming from, we will do the investigation soon but it is too early stage for me to give a better answer.
“For sure it is a shame to not finish the first one but before any conclusion, we need to understand exactly what happened. Overall, I can say that the picture is not the one expected before the race,” summed up Vasseur, who noted that such a problem was not seen on the dyno or during the test days across the teams that they supply.
“We never expected to have something like this because it is the first that we had it,” Vasseur continued. “We didn’t face the same issue at all during the six or seven thousand kilometers that we did with the engine last week with the three teams and we never had the same issue on the dyno over the winter but again we need to do a full investigation before to be able to give a full answer,” summed up Vasseur.
Looking at the overall situation, the new Ferrari boss admitted to concerns about the reliability which is needed to be top notch to win races but he was slightly positive about the pace Leclerc was able to do. The degradation was not worse but at the same time, he noted that it was not at the same level as Red Bull.
“If I want to summarise the situation, in the race pace we are there, we are matching Red Bull at least in Bahrain, it was a positive point,” said Vasseur. “Now we have to be fully realistic if we want to improve, we need to have a clear picture of the situation and reliability is not at the level that we need and to win races, we need to have a clean sheet in the weekends and not small details here and there.
“Regarding degradation, as we said before, I think Charles would have been able to finish P3, but degradation is at the level of Mercedes, not far or matching with Alonso but not at the level of Red Bull,” summed up Vasseur, who reiterated what he has been saying for some time that championships are not won or lost in test or the first round.
“It is never good to start with a DNF, I would have preferred the finish like Red Bull for sure,” started Vasseur. “I want to stay consistent in my position, I told the team and also to media before the test in Bahrain two weeks ago that the championship won’t be over in Bahrain doesn’t matter where we finish.
“It was true for the winter test, it was true today that the team experience the opposite situation in the past, the most important now is to have a clear picture of the situation, where we are failing and to do a proper analysis on this and to come back stronger as soon as possible,” summed up Vasseur, who maintained his jolly side speaking to media.
For Leclerc, it was yet another agony after the sufferings he has had in the last few seasons. The Monegasque was certain of a podium finish but was loss of words at the problems he had and the eventual retirement from the race.
“I don’t know what the problem is right now,” said Leclerc to media. “I don’t want to comment at this point. But we didn’t finish the race and we’ll have to look at that. There was just no power left. It’s a shame because it’s really on these weekends that we have to maximise the points with the potential of our car.
“We definitely had the car to fight for the podium. I mean, honestly, the podium was there. We had a good gap behind, I was managing the pace, everything felt good, so it is a shame. Now I just hope we can look into it, understand what went wrong and don’t have this problem anymore,” summed up Leclerc.
Here’s the agony for Charles Leclerc: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-bahrain-grand-prix-leclerc-cries-no-power-as-hes-forced-out-of-the-race-from-p3.1759545228343020554.html
Here’s how F1 Bahrain GP panned out