Charles Leclerc has suffered another major setback in his bid to become Formula One world champion after being handed a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Ferrari has struggled with reliability in recent weeks, losing out on likely wins and podiums as both Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz failed to complete the races, problems underscored by a double retirement in Azerbaijan last weekend.
Leclerc led the championship by 46 points over reigning champion Max Verstappen after three races, but with an 80-point swing, Verstappen has taken control of the standings. Leclerc is expected to lose further ground in Montreal after Ferrari fitted his car with a third electronic control unit of the season, triggering the automatic penalty.
A Ferrari spokesman said the team was working on “countermeasures” to strengthen the package.
Leclerc previously told reporters that Canada is not a bad place for a penalty as overtaking is comparatively easy.
Teammate Carlos Sainz also retired from the Baku race, but with a hydraulic problem which he described as “a bit strange” and “not experienced in a number of years”.
“It’s a mistake that the team believes is pretty easy to fix and move on,” said the Spaniard. “It happened to me, which is unfortunate, but I’m not worried. The team seems pretty calm and confident that something like this shouldn’t happen again.”
Verstappen dominated the first day of practice on Friday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Verstappen is the man on form this year, having won four of the last five races, including last weekend on the streets of Baku.
En route to Montreal, the conversation in the paddock centered on the FIA’s decision to step in and try to find a solution to the bouncing that has plagued the redesigned cars this season. Verstappen had fewer problems than others on the grid and with a time of one minute and 14.127 seconds he was leading the timesheets at the end of the second practice session.
Lewis Hamilton struggled with a bad back last weekend and said his car was “undriveable” towards the end of the second hour, which the Mercedes man finished 13th.
Ferrari duo Leclerc and Sainz were second and third fastest.
Additional reporting by agencies