Charles Leclerc’s pre-race crash at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix was due to an electronics issue triggering a power unit shutdown.
The Ferrari driver was set to start from second place but on the formation lap he crashed at Turn 6 and damaged the car against the barrier. Leclerc tried to return to the pits but the car had to be parked just one corner later, and after Leclerc blamed a hydraulics issue at the time, team principal Frederic Vasseur says it was actually triggered by another problem.
“It’s a system issue where the system shut off the hydraulics and engine,” Vasseur said. “The result of the [issue] from the system, we don’t know yet because the car is not back, but it was more an electronic problem.
“It’s very frustrating for Charles and for the team, but the issue is that, strategically over the weekend, we put all the effort into the long run to save tires — we didn’t use new tires for the [sprint]…we put everything on the long one and we didn’t take the start. It’s frustrating, but it was more than disappointing. I’m sure that my team will be back and we will be focused on Vegas.”
Leclerc himself explained how the matter unfolded from behind the wheel, and admits the bad luck he has been experiencing this season — including a disqualification in Austin just two weeks ago — leaves him keen for the year to end.
“I turned into Turn 6, everything was fine, and then you can see I basically lost the wheel because there was no power steering anymore so the steering feels very stiff, and then I go straight, then the engine stopped for safety reasons which made the rear wheels lock, which made me spin,” Leclerc said. “Then I touched the wall. I started to start the car again, I did 20 meters and then exactly the same thing happened, so that’s it. It’s a sudden thing. I’ve never had that before.
“I don’t know what to do anymore. Obviously it’s been a season to forget. There’s been quite a few races where I felt I was on it and then for some reason or another it wasn’t the result I wanted and today was part of them. So of course the frustration is big today, but it’s like this.
“Now I need to get over it and focus on the last two races which are still important … I cannot wait for it to be next year.”