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Formula 1 Brazilian GP

Leclerc reveals how electronic command issue triggered F1 crash

Charles Leclerc has explained how his Ferrari's electronics issue triggered his formation lap crash in Formula 1's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

The Ferrari driver had qualified second to Max Verstappen, but was unable to take the start after an electronic command issue caused a power unit and hydraulic failure.

This pitched him into the barrier, and despite his best efforts to get the car going again, he was unable to do so.

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur confirmed that the Leclerc’s failure to get away from the accident scene had been caused by “the same issue, the system switched off the hydraulic and engine”.

“I went to the corner, I lost the power steering first, and then the engine cut off for safety reasons,” Leclerc explained. “And then the rear wheels locked up, and that made me spin.

“So I had no control over the car to any point. Hydraulics, that is what I felt.

“But at the end, I don't think that is the issue, speaking with the engineers. We know what that is, but I cannot go too much into details.”

Leclerc said he could have kept going as only his front wing was damaged in the accident if his electronics issue hadn't kept happening.

“I moved the car again, there was only the front wing that was damaged,” he went on. “But apart from that, nothing else.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

”I started again, I got the hydraulics for 15 seconds. But then exactly the same thing happened. I lost the hydraulics, and then the engine cuts off.

“And obviously, it was clear that I couldn't go forward anymore, because I went 20 metres.”

Vasseur clarified that the problem had not occurred this season: “No. At least not in the last 10 months! It was the first time.”

Leclerc's non-start came after a string of disappointments over the course of a season that has seen him fail to win a race.

While still sitting in the car, he used team radio to vent about his continuing bad luck.

“Maybe it's part of the moment, also I was very frustrated,” he said when asked by Autosport about his comments.

“I'm annoyed because obviously, especially in the second part of the year I finally found the confidence with the car, and then you start second, you sacrifice a whole weekend for Sunday's race, you do six corners, and that's it.

“So, I'm very frustrated for now but now I need to move on and obviously focus on the last two races, that's the best thing I can do as a driver.

“But it's of course frustrating to lose so many opportunities throughout the season. I just hope that after this race we can anyway still be in the fight for the second in the constructors' [championship].

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, on the grid before the race

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, on the grid before the race

“That is my only motivation for the rest of the year, because then whatever else is left is not something that is super exciting.”

He added: “I'd rather have a lot of problems in a season where I'm fighting for these positions, than in a season where I'm fighting for the championship. Having said that, I would rather not have these types of issues at all.”

Vasseur believes “it would have been possible” for Leclerc to finish on the podium, and said the non-start was even more disappointing because the team had focused its efforts on Sunday’s main race. Team-mate Carlos Sainz finished sixth.

“For sure, it is very frustrating for Charles and for the team that also, strategically, another weekend we put all our effort on the long run to save tyres, so we had new tyres,” he said.

“We didn’t put new tyres on for the short one, we put everything on the long one, and we didn’t take the start.

“For sure, it’s frustrating. He was more than disappointed, but I am sure that he will be back, and we will be focussed on Vegas.”

He added: “Now, we have to stay calm to understand what has happened to avoid any issues in the future.

“I think the pace over the weekend was not that bad. We were in a good position today, and it is a missed opportunity because we were catching up with Mercedes a little bit over the weekend but with Charles on the front row with two sets of tyres, it could have been much better.

“We have still two attempts with Vegas and Abu Dhabi. Vegas could be a chaotic one and if we have the same pace as this weekend and Mercedes the same pace as this weekend, we have an opportunity.”

 

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