Ferrari have built a first rate car for the 2022 Formula One season. Yet reliability is clearly the issue that will prevent them from winning either F1 title this year. LeClerc has suffered two engine failures whilst leading races and suffered in Monaco from woeful Ferrari strategy. Charles crashed out of the French GP again in the lead an Ferrari have so far allowed him to take the blame as a ‘driver mistake’.
Yet evidence has come to light that Charles F1-75 may have failed again mid-corner causing the Monogasque to lose the rear end and crash into the safety barrier.
LeClerc was apparently sent to the media pen as the race continued and explained the crash was in fact his mistake.
“I am performing at the highest level of my career but if I keep the mistakes then it is pointless. If we lose the championship by 32 points I will know where they are coming from but it is unacceptable,” LeClerc told Sky F1’s Rachael Brooks.
“I go through the same process all the time and try to analyse. It is a mistake and that is it. It is trying to push too much and I lost the rear. It has been a very difficult weekend for me, I struggled with the balance of the car.
“I made a mistake at the wrong moment.”
Nico Rosberg believes Ferrari have hung Charles Leclerc out to dry and to allow him to take to the media pen while the race was still in progress accepting responsibility hasn’t allowed the team to examine the data properly.
“I think it’s premature of him [Charles] to take the blame. He needs to go back now [and check the data] because that’s really very unusual for that to happen in the way it did because you’re not pushing to the max there [in the corner]. You’re saving tyres and for the rear to go like that is unusual,” said Rosberg.
One thing could be that’s exactly the point where suddenly the wind comes from the rear and if you get an unlucky gust that can suddenly take 20% of your downforce. That could be something they need to look at.”
Of course Carlos Sainz suffered a similar gust of wind and a spin at this years race in Barcelona as he approached the relatively benign turn 4.
“Also, what was happening with the engine? It only takes a little bit of a cut or something that can kick out the rear. I really think they [Ferrari] need to take some time to look at that because I still can’t believe it was a driver mistake.”
“It was also strange Charles was complaining the car wasn’t able to go on throttle, because the car wasn’t even broken – I mean the front wing was broken – but I’m surprised he didn’t get out of there and continue,” added Rosberg.
There was speculation that the crash had been induced by the same throttle stuck on problems LeClerc had to deal with towards the end of this years Austrian GP. On the team radio Charles said after crashing he “couldn’t get off the throttle” before yelling “no!” to his race engineer.
Yet Mattia Binotto led the media to believe the entire incident was his driver’s fault.
“It was a mistake, it happened as doe reliability issues. But as I said to Charles we make our luck more difficult but it will get better and we will enjoy more in the future races.”
“It was a genuine driver error.”
Binotto suggested the pit radio throttle comments were relating to when LeClerc tried to reverse from the barrier. “We are going into the details but he felt the throttle was not responding”.
“[The throttle] was nothing to do with the mistake.”
However, Ferrari have proven incompetent in many ways this season and their analysis of the event is surely incomplete to make such positive assertions.
The video below shows LeClerc entering the corner. The car then during the slowing phase lays down a rubber trace similar to when the cars to burn outs of the way to the grid.
Clearly this is not normal as there are no other rubber tyre tracks on the circuit at this point either from LeCLerc or any other drivers.
Further, the car has not locked it’s tyres and so it isn’t a late braking driver error as the F1-75 car would be sliding sideways.
The car clearly continues to rotate normally for a while before the slide kicks in.
Further at this point of the corner the radius is decreasing and the curve is tightening. This is not a place where a driver would hit the loud pedal hard – if touch it at all.
Given Ferrari’s engine and throttle issues this looks as though the car gives Charles Leclerc a burst of torque he has not requested and he is not expecting. But because the 2022 cars run at times on a knife edge, LeClerc may well have believed he just lost the back end.
Ferrari have allowed Charles to take the blame for the crash at Paul Ricard and given they had throttle issues two weeks ago, an engine that is unreliable and catches fire together with the fact with little time to properly analyse the data, it appears poor form to quickly blame their driver.
The most likely explanation is this was car failure.