Ferrari got to Barcelona with an upgrade package that looked quite promising in their quest to catch up with an updated Red Bull that secured two consecutive wins in Imola and Miami.
Charles Leclerc’s Spanish weekend was looking just perfect, as not only did he top all three practice sessions and took pole position after an incredible last lap but he was also leading the Grand Prix and building a significant gap from the rest of the grid, until it all crashed down.
On lap 27 his F1-75 started to slow down suddenly and he was quickly forced to come back into the pits and retire from the race.
“It was a sudden issue. I think we learned it first from Charles, first going on to the radio, and then from the engineers looking at the data. So it was really sudden,” said team principal Mattia Binotto.
A sudden stop that also cost Leclerc the lead in the Driver’s Championship, which now sees Verstappen at the top 6 points clear of the Monegasque.
The car was later taken back to Maranello to undergo examinations and it was discovered that both the turbo and MGU-H were irreparably damaged.
“Having examined the PU from Leclerc’s car, we found the turbo and MGU-H are damaged and cannot be repaired,” explained Ferrari in a statement.
“However, having fully analysed the failure and its cause, we are satisfied it did not occur through a design fault or reliability issue with these two components or any other elements of the PU.”
A failure caused by external factors, that doesn’t make Ferrari doubt the reliability of the single-seater by still a costly one.
The issue means that Leclerc will need to replace these components and - given that the PU used last weekend was already the second of the season for the 24-year-old- they will have to ponder the decision well.
If he takes new components for the Monaco GP it will be the last change allowed for the entire season, making it very likely to get a grid penalty not so late into the year.