Martin Brundle unloads Ferrari rant as Charles Leclerc dealt misery

F1 preview: A lap of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Martin Brundle has criticised Ferrari for a “shocking” start to the new F1 season as Charles Leclerc becomes the first driver to receive a grid penalty. Brundle warned it was “jaw drop time” for Ferrari engineers as reliability concerns plague the Prancing Horse.

Leclerc was forced to take a 10-place penalty for Sunday’s race after the team fitted a new control electronics unit ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Teams are only allowed two for the entire season but the Monegasque had already burned through his yearly allowance.

Ferrari fitted his second device at the Bahrain Grand Prix before confirming a third would be used in Jeddah. Brundle stressed teams should have fixed these issues more than a year into the new rules cycle.

He told Sky Sports F1: “The reliability – Leclerc taking a 10-place grid drop here, it’s jaw drop and eyes roll time. Already? It seems incredible that they’ve burned through two control units. There are obviously some issues there to be sorted out and reliability is everything.

Charles Leclerc slams new F1 rule that will affect race preparations []

“Teams, you’d imagine, have got that sort of thing aced by now, so that’s a shocker. I think the Ferrari will look better here than in Bahrain.”

New team principal Frederic Vasseur confirmed Ferrari would take the penalty on Wednesday after admitting they experienced a range of issues in Sakhir.

He confirmed the Italian marque had undergone a major investigation into the issue but could only “hope” the problem would not strike again.

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He explained: “On Sunday, we had two different issues. The first one was on the Sunday morning, when we did the fire-up, and the second one was in the race. Unfortunately, it was two times the control unit, the ECU. It’s something that we never experienced in the past. I hope now it’s under control, but we have a deep analysis on this.

“Unfortunately, we’ll have to take the penalty in Jeddah, because we have only a pool of two control units for the season.” Ferrari’s weekend got worse on Friday with the team confirming Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have also taken up a new internal combustion engine.

Although this will not warrant further penalties in Jeddah it will move the pair closer to taking grid drops later in the campaign. Leclerc has also been fitted with a new MGU-H as a “further precaution”.

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