Monegasque Charles Leclerc will exit Sunday’s Formula One Canadian Grand Prix with ten penalty points after Ferrari decided on Friday to change an element of its single-seater beyond the allotment authorized per season. And the fine could go up.
He’s already upstairs. Formula One World Championship leader Max Verstappen took over the weekend on Friday after the first two free practice sessions of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, where Charles Leclerc will be penalized with ten places on Sunday. The defending champion is the favorite for this 9th round of the season. In front of the already full stands of the Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit, the Dutchman from Red Bull was the fastest. His closest pursuer, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), is certainly hot on his heels with 81/1000, but the Monegasque will definitely not take the lead: he will be penalized by ten grid positions for a change of engine part in excess of the approved quota.
As Verstappen’s main (and only?) opponent in the title race, Leclerc has not won since April 10 in Australia and is now third in the standings, 34 points behind Verstappen and 13 behind Mexican Sergio Pérez, the second Red Bull driver. Leclerc may have chained the last four pole positions, none of those performances translated into a win, owing to two engine failures (retirements in Spain and Azerbaijan) and poor strategy (4th in Monaco). As a result of this major slump, the powerplant, classified by Scuderia as “irreparable”, has undergone significant changes.
The sanction could increase for Leclerc
Too much: The engine control electronics, which have been changed for the third time since the start of the season, are in default for two parts approved for the whole year. Admittedly, Sunday Mass has not yet been read. Everything moves very quickly in Formula 1, but Verstappen sees his favorite status further strengthened by this new setback for the Prancing Horse. On Saturday he will be aiming for his 2nd pole of the year at the 4.361km Île Notre-Dame circuit bordered by Saint-Laurent if Leclerc looks to limit the damage (qualifying at 10pm after free practice). 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.).
For Leclerc, the penalty could increase further if his car’s turbo is changed again – and sooner or later it will. If not in Montreal, it will be for one of the next races, resulting in a new penalty. Carlos Sainz’s other Ferrari set the third fastest time ahead of surprising veterans Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and Fernando Alonso (Alpine). For Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), on the other hand, the setbacks with a 13th place only continued in the second session. The Brit complained of an “undriveable” car as his team tried a new solution on their soil.
At a press conference on Friday, drivers reconsidered the FIA’s decision to take action to reduce ‘porpoise’, an aerodynamic phenomenon that causes significant vibration in single-seaters on the straights. In particular, the FIA is betting on reinforced controls on the floors and sidepods, a limit on the “vertical oscillations” of the chassis and a technical meeting with the teams, all “in the interests of driver safety”. Hamilton had a hard time getting out of his Mercedes with severe back pain last Sunday in Baku. “As far as the micro-shocks go, I’ve certainly had a lot more headaches in the last few months” than in previous years, he explained on Friday. “I feel like I’m a little smaller this week,” he joked.
“The records (of his back) are definitely not in the best shape right now. Not the best for longevity.” Eventually a horse chestnut from the Canadian GP crossed a marmot across the track. Luckily, the animal narrowly avoided Sainz’s Ferrari to find a more peaceful spot.
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