Ferrari ‘to avoid penalty at Saudi Arabia GP’ after investigation

Mick Schumacher drives his father’s Ferrari F2003-GA in October

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Charles Leclerc could dodge a penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after Ferrari suffered a nightmare start to the new 2023 season. Leclerc was forced out of the Bahrain Grand Prix with mechanical issues despite running in P3 behind the two Red Bull’s.

There were fears Ferrari would be forced into replacing parts which could have handed Leclerc a grid drop for the next race in Jeddah. However, investigations at Maranello have concluded the first of two control units could be saved.

It means the Monegasque is unlikely to face a penalty next time out but will likely have to take a drop sooner than his rivals. According to Italia, Ferrari has also identified the cause of the issue which plagued Leclerc in Sakhir.

The Scuderia believes the wiring broke down simply due to inadequate fastening between the engine and the chassis. Speaking after the race, Leclerc said: “We had a great start and everything felt good. We had a solid gap behind us and were managing the pace well until unfortunately, we lost power.

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“It’s a shame and we will look into the causes to make sure we understand what happened.” The issue was one of three problems for the Prancing Horse at the opening race as questions arose over the team’s reliability.

A new rear-wing structure was abandoned on Friday after it looked unstable in practice. The concept was spotted shaking violently which prompted the team to remove the concept and go back to its previous design.

Leclerc’s car was also seen shredding bodywork at the start of qualifying as he tackled the bumpy surface. This was identified as pieces of carbon fibre around the front wheels but gave the team a less-than-ideal start to the weekend.

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Italian media had reported Ferrari’s focus was on fixing their mechanical failures over the winter. New team boss Frederic Vasseur demanded his engineers to get to the bottom of the failures and stressed it was vital there was “no more” problems.

He explained: “Of course we are disappointed, how could we not be. We knew we’d have to deal with tyre degradation, but we had not expected reliability problems.. ​​After this first race, we have a clear picture of the situation and we know what areas we must work on.

“We have to improve a lot in terms of tyre management and clearly, we have to ensure we have no more reliability problems like the one that affected us today.”

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