Charles Leclerc has been penalised ten places before the next Formula 1 Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia after Ferrari must install a third electronic control unit on its car, the limit per season is two. This bad news penalises the team and its driver, but this does not affect Leclerc’s motivation according to Ferrari’s new team boss, Frédéric Vasseur, whose rhetoric is that it is not a big deal with a “nothing to see here…” attitude.
After retiring at the end of the race at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the problems continue to pile up for Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc. Forced to drop ten places at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which takes place this weekend, on March 19, the Ferrari driver will start the race far from the front row. This is a damaging, but not alarming, situation for Scuderia director Frédéric Vasseur.
“At Ferrari, you have the pressure of the country & the press”.
Frédéric Vasseur is a newcomer to Ferrari, having been appointed head of the Italian team this winter. The Frenchman spoke of the pressure he has been under since his arrival:
“At Ferrari, you have the pressure of the country and the press. It’s true, and it’s different from all the other teams, if you compare the situation.
“But on the other hand, it also happens elsewhere that you are under pressure. Of course I can understand the enthusiasm and passion around the team, and that creates pressure, but pressure is not a big problem for me.
“The problem is probably with the team itself, and I want to avoid that kind of pressure on the employees, because it is totally unproductive.”
“Don’t imagine that he can be demotivated”.
Frédéric Vasseur then spoke about this 10-place penalty, and its impact on the team and Charles Leclerc:
“His penalty is not good news, but it is not the end of his season either. We’ll see what happens in Jeddah and what the outcome of the race might be, even with the penalty.
“But don’t imagine for a second that he might be demotivated or anything like that, he’s pretty convinced, he’s working with us, he’s pushing the team, he’s pushing everybody in a positive way.”
In an effort to bat away the obvious thing on the minds of everyone about Leclerc’s retirement in the opening race; the fact that yet again Charles Leclerc retired on an engine glitch, the Frenchman explained why Leclerc was so down.
“When you ask drivers a question after 40 laps in Bahrain, they might be a bit exhausted and not happy. If the driver was happy after the retirement, it would be a different story.
“Charles was with us at the tyre test day in Bahrain on Tuesday, and he was at the factory on Wednesday morning. We had a speech there with all the staff and we were all together on the stage. Charles is motivated, it’s a bad race out of 23, but he is motivated. He’s driving the team forward trying to get the best out of everyone.”