Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is facing a penalty of shifting 10 places on the grid ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian grand prix.
It comes after Leclerc was forced to withdraw from the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix due to an engine problem, an early blow to his hopes of challenging Max Verstappen for the F1 title.
Frederic Vasseur, Ferrari’s new team principal, said after the race he was surprised by his retirement, but further investigation had identified a problem.
Ferrari said it was forced to fit a different power unit to the control electronics on Leclerc’s car ahead of the second race of the season after having parts replaced in Bahrain.
Teams are only allowed to use two pieces of control electronics per season until a penalty is imposed, which has given Leclerc a hard-fought battle as he looks to reduce Verstappen’s early lead in the standings.
“We had two different problems on Sunday,” Vasseur said on Wednesday. “The first was on Sunday morning when we were lighting the fire and the second was during the race. Unfortunately, it was a dual control unit, or ECU.
“It’s something we’ve never experienced in the past. Hopefully this is under control now, but we have a deep analysis on this. Unfortunately, we will have to make up for it in Jeddah as we only have two control units per season.
Leclerc may be forced to drop the start further if Ferrari takes further spares.