Ferrari Announces Charles Leclerc Will Take A 10-Place Grid Penalty, And We’re Not Even To Second Race Of Season Yet

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We haven’t even had driver press conferences for the second race of the 2023 Formula 1 season, and already Ferrari has revealed that Charles Leclerc will be taking a 10-place grid penalty for using his third set of control electronic components.

You’re only allowed two of those for the entire season.

Typically we don’t need to discuss engine penalties until well into the season. However, before the Bahrain Grand Prix, Ferrari announced that they had swapped out Leclerc’s energy store. Then, during the race, Leclerc suffered an engine failure.

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur said that these were separate issues but both had to do with the car’s electrical control unit or ECU.

“On Sunday, we had two different issues,” Vasseur said on Wednesday. “The first one was on the Sunday morning, when we did the fire up, and the second one was in the race. Unfortunately, it was two times the control unit, the ECU.

“It’s something that we never experienced in the past. I hope now it’s under control, but we have a deep analysis on this. Unfortunately, we’ll have to take the penalty in Jeddah, because we have only a pool of two control units for the season.”

Leclerc will start the Sauid Arabian Grand Prix with a maximum starting position of P11. That of course is barring any additional penalties, and while there doesn’t seem to be any indication of that, who would have thought they’d be taking this penalty?

However, fear not, Tifosi. There could be a silver lining…

… a very small one.

Starting out of the points isn’t ideal, but the Jeddah Corniche Circuit could play to Ferrari’s strength. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

This Isn’t The Worst Circuit For Ferrari To Take A Penalty

This is less than ideal and will almost certainly allow Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez (who was on pole in Jeddah last season and could have won if not for a poorly timed safety car) to take off down the road.

But if there’s a circuit that might suit Ferrari’s car — at least from what we saw in Bahrain — the Jeddah Corniche Street Circuit might present an opportunity for them to salvage some points.

Why? The circuit in Jeddah is a high-speed street circuit comprised of mostly long straights and flowing corners.

Ferrari was at their best last race (at least in qualifying) on the straights.

Of the three top teams in Bahrain — Red Bull, Aston Martin, and Ferrari — Ferrari seemed to be the team to beat on the straights, while Red Bull was strong on corner entrance and exit and Aston Martin was strong mid-corner.

I’d expect Leclerc to have a reasonably strong qualifying that would have him starting just a few spots out of the points. His car will be faster than any car starting around him, and I wouldn’t be stunned to see him hop into the Top 10 before we’re finished with lap 1.

A podium seems out of the question for Leclerc (barring anything goofy happening( but I think a P5 finish is doable. That’d be a nice point salvage, and Leclerc needs to grab every point he can after DNFing in Bahrain.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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