Scuderia Ferrari have confirmed that Charles Leclerc’s dramatic loss of performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix was down to a cylinder failure, rather than a malfunctioning MGU-H element as had been previously thought. The issue robbed Charles of a near-certain victory in just his second Ferrari race. After becoming Ferrari’s youngest pole-sitter on Saturday, Charles Leclerc looked likely to add another Maranello milestone to his collection, having built up a comfortable lead with three quarters of the race gone.
However, a sudden loss of power left him powerless to stop Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas cruising through and only a late safety car kept him from the clutches of Max Verstappen and on the podium:
“We are checking now the engine so we do not have yet a clear explanation of what happened,” said Scuderia boss Mattia Binotto: “It is an engine problem. We had miscombustion on one cylinder but [the reason is] to be understood. The engine will go back to Maranello for careful checks because when something like this happens you need to take your time to do your checks carefully. But the engine was running at the end of the race so it is still able to run. We will use it certainly on the Friday in China and we have an entire Friday to assess its behaviour, its functionality and its performance. I don’t know where the rumours came from, there was nothing wrong with the MGU-H. When something like that happens you try to move on the recovery in terms of any combustion control mapping that you may do, at least you try to change mappings. You try to see if there is any way to make it better. That was not the case today so we had to manage the race. It has been a brave decision to continue racing in those conditions. But at the end it was a third place that was important so finally probably the right decision.” – Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto explained at the end of the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.