The 2023 World Championship has certainly not started well for Scuderia Ferrari in general and for Charles Leclerc in particular. The Monegasque driver suffered reliability problems with his SF-23 in the first fast lap of qualifying, when a piece of carbon flying flew off of the right front tire. Earlier in the Bahrain race weekend, the Monegasque driver had also reported a problem with the clutch.
Before yesterday’s race, during an usual diagnostic check, a second and third problem was detected, so much so that both the battery and the electronic control unit were replaced on his single-seater.
Finally, as we well know, Charles Leclerc was forced to retire after the middle of the race, when the SF-23 progressively lost power until it shut down on the side of the track and, from the first results, it seems to be due to another problem with the new electronic control unit .
Looking at the images of the camera car, this hypothesis is more than probable, as there was no power on the SF-23 (there was no fuel), the steering wheel was on and there were no strange noises coming from broken mechanical parts in the internal combustion unit or in the turbine.
The worst-case scenario therefore envisages a tragically unexpected situation: after only one race in the 2023 Formula 1 season, Charles Leclerc would have to serve ten grid penalty positions for exceeding the maximum number of components that can be used in a season, in this case the two electronic control units. In fact, the regulation states that a ten-position grid penalty is given for the first violation and 5 for the following ones.
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From the point of view of, Charles Leclerc‘s possibility of immediately returning to fight for victory is precisely the worst case scenario. But for now there is no official confirmation regarding the cause of the Ferrari technical failure, while at the same time it is possible that both control units could be saved at the factory.
We must also add that, however tragic in the short term, perhaps a failure of the two control units would be comforting in the long term for Ferrari compared to a problem with the internal combustion unit or the turbo, components on which the Maranello team has invested a great deal of research resources with the goal of improving reliability.
Instead, the causes that may have led to the failure of both electronic control units and perhaps of the batteries, seem to be connected to the temperature and vibrations to which they are subject due to the arrangement of the parts on the SF-23 car, which is still one of the single-seaters that suffered from bouncing the most on the grid.