leclerc dnf bahrain f1 ferrari

Displeased Leclerc meets Elkann with Ferrari in F1 crisis

leclerc dnf bahrain f1 ferrari

The knives are out in Italy this weekend as the media heavy-hitters weigh into a crisis of chaos at Ferrari, under newly instated team principal Fred Vasseur with Charles Leclerc reportedly having talks with big boss John Elkann to clarify the polemics that have thrust Maranello into chaos.

The no-nonsense Frenchman, is expected to take Ferrari to the next level after Mattia Binotto was shown the door at the end of last year, but Vasseur is apparently already disenchanted with his role as team principal, which apparently carries very little power.

Instead, it is racing newbie Benedetto Vigna, as CEO, wielding all the power, hence the dissent within the ranks at the Scuderia, exacerbated by a woeful showing at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Leclerc suffering a DNF and Carlos Sainz labouring all weekend to finish fourth, nearly 59 seconds down on Red Bull’s race winner Max Verstappen.

In the wake of startling revelations by Vasseur of his plight and frustration at the helm of the sport’s most famous and supported team, his former ‘pupil’ Leclerc has entered the scene according to the desk of Luigi Perna who wrote in Corrierre Motori: “The cheerfulness and smiles displayed at the presentation of the Ferrari SF-23 seem forgotten.

“The first race in Bahrain left a heavy aftermath. The Reds are further from the Red Bulls than at the beginning of 2022, contrary to what was heralded a few weeks ago, and now the bad vibes begin. The most displeased is Charles Leclerc, out of frustration at not being able to compete with his rival Max Verstappen, beyond the failure of the power unit which cost him his retirement when he was in third position.”

Leclerc’s contract with Ferrari expires at the end of 2024 and Mercedes are interested

Vasseur orders 'full investigation' into Leclerc's engine issue

“The Monegasque, upon returning from Sakhir’s away trip, is said to have requested and obtained a meeting with President John Elkann in Maranello, to discuss the situation. Obviously worried. The season of the assault on the world title risks turning into another flop.

“And that prospect is unacceptable for the driver, who was expecting a step forward after his second place in the last World Championship.”

The pain was exacerbated by not only the manner in which Red Bull (again) dominated, with Ferrari chasing when last year the roles were reversed, as Leclerc led home Sainz for a famous one-two as both Red Bull drivers were forced to retire their cars with PU issues. Furthermore, Charles started from pole.

The Ferrari F1-75 of last year was effective for the first few races of 2022, before Red Bull found a head of steam and never lost it, until today. But its evolution, the current SF-23 appears to be less effective very early in the season.

But F1 2023 has only run in Bahrain so far, other tracks are likely to be a different kettle of fish and perhaps the Red Bulls won’t have such an advantage, perhaps with conditions more suitable to their rivals, enabling them to close the gap at least. That’s the wish of course, but the reality tends to be: such a good car anywhere will be a good car everywhere.

Perna went on to speculate: “It is probable that Leclerc wanted to share his point of view with Elkann (there is a direct relationship between the two) and receive reassurances. His contract with the Prancing Horse expires at the end of 2024, there have been talks of Mercedes’ interest several times, but this is not something Charles cares little about.”

Leclerc’s restlessness was already evident during the pre-season tests

Leclerc-Sainz-Bahrain-Podium-2022

“He just wants to win with Ferrari. He has been linked to the Red by a deep love since he was a child and is grateful for what he has received because the Driver Academy in Maranello was fundamental for his growth and the promotion to the first team made his career take off.

“Bringing the team back to the top is a mission he won’t give up easily. However, after four seasons at Ferrari, even the boy prodigy feels that time is running out. Leclerc’s restlessness was already evident during the pre-season tests.

“Do you remember that long conversation on the pitwall with David Sanchez, the aerodynamicist head of the Vehicle Concept, who recently resigned? Charles understood that something was wrong and his teammate Sainz had the same impression, compared to the optimistic predictions of the simulator tests. The race brought their nightmares to light.

“The SF-23 showed a high degree of tyre degradation, both of the soft compound and the hard ones, a symptom of complex problems to be solved. In addition, reliability cracked, like last year in Spain, Azerbaijan, and Austria; a disturbing fact considering the many tests carried out on Maranello engine beds.”

Adding credence to reports of Vasseur being “harnessed” with fewer powers than his fellow F1 team principals, Perna reported: “The beginning could not have been more difficult for the new team principal Frederic Vasseur, who took over from Mattia Binotto at the beginning of January and deciding to leave the quiet shores of Alfa Romeo.”

Vasseur continues to smile and appears to have peace of mind

Formel 1 - Ferrari: Neuer Teamchef, aber alte Probleme

“The Frenchman has the task of reorganizing a team that has just experienced an earthquake at the top and which has been missing the drivers’ title for 15 years. In addition, there is the limp start to the campaign aggravates the situation.

“But Vasseur continues to smile and appears to have peace of mind. He had said that the World Championship result would not depend on the outcome of the first race and that six months would not be enough to sort everything out. Will the Ferrari management, anxious to see results, give him the necessary time?

“The atmosphere is tense in the corridors of the factory and it could not be otherwise. Sanchez’s resignation is a sign of the uncertainty within the team. The ‘Coach’ who has been present at Maranello for 10 years, had already circulated his CV among the other teams during the winter, feeling he was in a precarious position, and his friend Andrea Stella called him from McLaren.

“Moreover, his role as head of aerodynamics had been effectively taken over by Diego Tondi and an ad hoc function had been created for Sanchez. He will not be replaced, but like Sanchez, it seems that many others at Ferrari have probed the market in recent months because they are insecure after Binotto’s exit.

“Chief Strategist Inaki Rueda has been demoted to a different job at the company and may not be staying. Gino Rosato has left and Jonathan Giacobazzi has also resigned, a figure historically linked to the company and much appreciated in the paddock, to the point that someone had indicated him as a possible team principal.

The bleeding doesn’t necessarily end there. For Vasseur, who promoted the young Ravin Jain to lead tacticians but had no influence in other decisions, it will be difficult to preach calm and unity in a long-knife climate like this,” concludes Perna.

Leclerc and Sainz will be in action for Ferrari from next Friday in Jeddah, for the first practice day of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with the race on 19 March.

This article is created in collaboration with スポーツベット24.com, the leading source of information for F1 betting in Japan.