The Azerbaijan Formula One GP never ceases to provide shock moments. Verstappen lost a comfortable lead in 2021 with a tyre blowout. This year it was Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc who suffered a similar fate when his Maranello power unit gave up the ghost.
Five drivers failed to finish the race and rather shockingly four of them were driving Ferrari powered cars.
Charles LeClerc’s car failure on lap 21 while leading the race was clearly an engine blow out as smoke poured from the back of his red Ferrari. Shortly afterwards Kevin Magnussen in the Ferrari powered Haas car also retired with smoke pouring out of the air box.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto dismissed the idea that his team’s power unit was the single source of fault for all the retirements explaining that Carlos Sainz retirement was a hydraulic issue.
Alfa Romeo’s Gaunyu Zhou was told to box the car b u there message he received from the team was coded as to the exact nature of the problem though Paul di Resta believed it too was a Ferrari powertrain problem.
In previous races the Maranello engine has failed others too. Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa started the Baku GP on his third engine having lost two already in the first 7 races of 2021.
Of course LeClerc again lost another winning position in Spain due to power unit issues.
During 2021 Binotto admitted the Ferrari power unit was about 20bhp down on the Mercedes and substantial work was done over the winter on the design of the combustion element of the power unit.
Speaking to f1.com following testing, Binotto whose background is in engines revealed,“The hybrid is very similar to the one we raced at the end of the season, just a few different sensors for the FIA 2022 requirements. The rest, especially the internal combustion engine, I have to say it’s significantly different.”
F1 cars break down for a variety of power united related issues, however when smoke pours out from under the engine cover, the combustion engine is the usual suspect.
Ferrari will be allowed by the FIA to alter their engine design for reliability purposes, but it appears at present the Italian team is lost for now as to the reason the engine is failing.
For now Ferrari and their customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas will be on tenterhooks as they fly directly to Canada for next weekends back to back race.