Thursday 5 August 2021 - How did Leclerc's Ferrari engine get irreparably damaged?

PHOTO CREDIT: Scuderia Ferrari
In addition to the damage, the insult is not only the retirement of Charles Leclerc who labeled the Hungarian Grand Prix as "an important opportunity", but, after in-depth checks in Maranello on Monday, Scuderia Ferrari announced that the second power unit is irreparably damaged.

From the press release: "After the checks carried out yesterday (Monday) in Maranello on the SF21 number 16, it emerged that the engine was irreparably damaged in the impact at the Hungaroring with Lance Stroll's Aston Martin and can no longer be used".

The third power unit of the three available will be mounted in the SF21 of the Monegasque driver at Spa-Francorchamps before incurring a penalty.

Something already planned at this point of the season, given that Spa and Monza (this year will be run after Holland) are very demanding tracks on the power unit. All this, however, having the first and second power unit available for the classic rotations on Friday free practice, considering the two remaining weekends with the Sprint Race (Monza for sure, then Austin?) Where it will be impossible to carry them out.

However, no longer having the second engine available for these rotations, which had only covered just over 1500 km, and with PU 1 over 4300 km, Charles Leclerc could incur a penalty on the grid in the second part of the season when he installs the fourth power unit and, as often happens, the fourth turbocharger group and MGU-H.

But let's understand how the power unit installed on the SF21 of the Monegasque could have been irreparably damaged.

Everything arose from the strong impact between the left front tire of Stroll's Aston Martin and the right sidepod of Leclerc's SF21 in turn 1 which caused the cooling system to break. This led to a major leakage of liquid, as can also be seen from the image above.

The Monegasque driver who was unable to see the damage in his mirrors tried to continue until his SF21 spun and the engine fell silent at the entrance to turn 2. Having continued with the engine not cooled, even in the few hundreds of meters that divide the first two curves of the Hungaroring, has generated devastating consequences on the power unit.

Something similar also happened to Sergio Perez, albeit in a more contained way (at least initially), so much so that the Mexican driver managed to get up to the straight between turns 11 and 12 where he had to give up, parking his "croaking” RB16B after the order given via radio from the pits (they had noticed the important anomaly).

Valtteri Bottas' serious braking error in turn 1 had in fact caused him to break the “right” cooling system of the Honda PU, which could very easily have suffered the same damage as its Italian 'sister'.

"He lost all the water immediately. We will have to investigate in more detail, but the first reports say that the engine will be difficult to use in the future," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

An innocent Leclerc, who sooner or later will have to serve a penalty of at least 10 positions on the grid, is contrasted by a Stroll who will be behind "only" 5 positions at Spa. The same situation is also between Perez and Bottas. It is strange to write it, but the two innocent drivers will pay a higher price than those who awkwardly generated the accident.

Then there is a question of money for the 'repairs' of the damages. These accidents obviously enter into the calculation of the millions of dollars (145 this year) available to the teams from the budget cap, thus going to 'limit' even those who suffer them without 'blame' as in the case of the duo Red Bull and Leclerc in Hungary.

Recall that Mercedes has chosen to skip a day of testing on Pirelli 2022s to compensate for the extra cost caused by the accident between Bottas and Russell in Imola.

The Milton Keynes and Ferrari team would like F1 managers to discuss how to account for this 'crash' damage.

"Accidents like the ones we have suffered in the last two GPs have not been foreseen and it is something that needs to be examined in more detail by the FIA," Horner said.

The British team would like these 'accident' costs to be excluded from the 145 million cap budget.

Scuderia Ferrari, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the teams of the drivers who caused the accident should pay for the damage. Mercedes in Silverstone, Mercedes and Aston Martin in Hungary. This is also to make the drivers more responsible.

Both solutions are complicated to implement, the Scuderia Ferrari one even more so. Who would determine what is the cost of repairing a particular damaged car? According to Red Bull, the Silverstone accident cost $1.8 million but it is not certain that for another team the estimated figure will be the same.

In addition to this, which components would be considered truly damaged and which not? And what about the engines? On the other hand, above all competing teams (Mercedes and Red Bull in this case they are) would do everything to increase the expense to turn over to the other team, if the Ferrari solution were used.

The inspection should then take place piece by piece, with the FIA ​​as supervisor. However, the latter we have already seen how often it does not have the ability to do it correctly.

In conclusion, it is rather difficult to find a solution that does not leave room for too many interpretations, always deleterious in a very regulated system such as F1 which instead, even more so with the budget cap, should grant more freedom.

Written By: Piergiuseppe Donadoni and Giuliano Duchessa

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PHOTO CREDIT: Scuderia Ferrari

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