Ferrari: Sensor failure led to Leclerc’s "unlucky" pitlane speeding penalty

Ferrari has revealed a sensor failure resulting from the tear-off that became stuck in Charles Leclerc’s brake duct led to his “unlucky” penalty for Formula 1 pitlane speeding.

Ferrari: Sensor failure led to Leclerc’s "unlucky" pitlane speeding penalty

Leclerc received a five-second penalty shortly after the chequered flag when he was found to have exceeded the pitlane speed limit when he came in at the end of Lap 42.

The penalty dropped Leclerc from fifth to sixth place behind Fernando Alonso, and came after Leclerc had been running comfortably in fifth. The decision to pit again was a bid by Ferrari to try and get the fastest lap bonus point, only for Leclerc to fall six-tenths of a second shy of Max Verstappen’s best lap time.

Leclerc took the blame for exceeding the pitlane speed limit, but Ferrari F1 boss Mattia Binotto revealed a sensor failure resulting from a visor tear-off getting stuck in Leclerc’s front-right brake duct meant the team’s measurements may have been slightly out.

“It was really, really borderline,” Binotto said after the race when asked by Autosport about the decision to pit Leclerc so late.

“We were not using our normal sensors measuring the speed because they have failed during the overheating of the front-right due to the tear-off of Max, and our recovery [system], maybe it was not such accurate.

“I think overall, it has been an unlucky situation. It’s not because of that we stop deciding and being brave, to go for a fastest lap when conditions are there to go for it.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Photo by: Erik Junius

Leclerc was found by the stewards to have exceeded the 80km/h limit in the pitlane by 1 km/h, triggering the five-second penalty.

It marked another setback for Leclerc and Ferrari on a day their title hopes took another big hit after Verstappen charged from 14th on the grid to win the race, extending his championship lead to 98 points over Leclerc.

Binotto felt the call to bring Leclerc in so he could try and score the fastest lap bonus point was the right one.

“It’s the opportunity to try to get the fastest lap, and there was the margin on Fernando to stop and try to go for it,” Binotto said.

“I think it was the right decision, and we knew it would have been very close to Fernando. It just tight losing the position.

“But we knew as well he could have overtook him back because he had the fresher tyres, and that could have helped in terms of DRS and top speed in the main straight.

“Once again, I think it was the right decision.”

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Ferrari has suffered a handful of strategy setbacks this season, and the Spa race saw Leclerc face a number of questions from his engineer about which tyres they should opt for.

But Binotto felt there was “no need at all” to rethink Ferrari’s approach to its strategy discussions.

“Obviously there is always a need to try and improve, and there are lessons learned which we are looking at and reflecting,” Binotto said.

“But if I look back at the season, I think there are a lot of perceptions from outside compared to what are the true and the reality, I think sometimes we are not doing mistakes when it may have been perceived as a mistake.

“More than that, if I look at today, and I focus on today, I think that the call to stop him was the right call. You need to be brave in F1.”

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