Ferrari crisis goes on as Leclerc punished and boss Vasseur ‘fed up’

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The new era of F1 was supposed to signal the start of a period of success at Ferrari. The sport’s new regulations, introduced in 2022, were supposed to not only neutralise the dominance of Red Bull and Mercedes, but provide the Scuderia with the chance to touch greatness again. All seemed to be going to script when Charles Leclerc won two of the opening three races last year – but since then, things have gone from bad to worse.

Ferrari are currently up against it already this season and are facing plenty of criticism as Red Bull stormed to a 1-2 finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Leclerc suffered a disaster of his own as he failed to finish the race while Carlos Sainz finished fourth. But there are a number of issues for the Scuderia to address just one race into the 2023 campaign.

Leclerc sanctioned for Saudi

Car reliability proved an issue for Leclerc as his title challenge faded last season, and the theme continued in Bahrain as he reitred from third place due to his car’s electronic control unit (ECU) failing. He had already had an ECU part replaced on Saturday, and now needs another change ahead of Jeddah.

The means the Monegasque man has already exceeded the two ECU units permitted per season. The result? A 10 place penalty for this Sunday’s race, and an almost impossible task of trying to take the chequered flag.

Vasseur ‘fed up’ from the off

There were strategic errors at Ferrari last season, but the team releasing Team Principal Mattia Binotto after nigh-on three decades with the team was still a huge call. Alfa Romeo’s Fred Vasseur was the chosen replacement, but he is already reported to be on the brink amid claims CEO Benedetto Vigna has more power over team affairs then him.

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Writing on the wall?

The retirement aside, it was clear neither Leclerc or Carlos Sainz – despite his fourth-placed finish – had the pace to match world champion Max Verstappen.

As a result, frustrations have boiled over for Leclerc, with the star writing to Ferrari chiefs to request a meeting with chief executive John Elkann afterwards. Oh to be a fly on the wall when that took place.

An aerodynamic blow

Just when Vasseur doesn’t need it, aerodynamics boss David Sanchez has seemingly tendered his resignation ahead of an expected move to McLaren later in the season. A key component of the staff for more than a decade, his imminent exit to a rival suggests the Italian giants are indeed in turmoil.

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Alpine to pounce?

And Sanchez may not be the only integral figure heading to the exit. Race director Laurent Mekies left his FIA role in 2018 to join Ferrari, and could soon be going back to where he came from.

Reportedly upset at the management structure, Mekies has received three offers. The FIA, Liberty Media, and most tellingly, F1 rivals Alpine, are all chasing his services.

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