Charles Leclerc, Ferrari down but not out after Bahrain GP heartbreak
Leclerc and Ferrari pledge to bounce back after Bahrain engine issue; Ferrari say problem will be "easily addressed"
By James Galloway in Bahrain
Last Updated: 01/04/19 4:52pm
Ferrari believe they can take solace from the team's resounding return to form at the Bahrain GP, despite the engine problem which cruelly robbed Charles Leclerc of a breakthrough F1 win.
The Italian team have launched an investigation into exactly what caused the power problem which dropped Leclerc from first to third in the final 10 laps at Sakhir - although they have already confirmed there was "nothing wrong with the MGU-H" element.
Despite topping all practice and qualifying sessions and leading the race until lap 48, Ferrari's reliability fault on Leclerc's car and a tough race for Sebastian Vettel let in Mercedes to claim their second successive one-two at the start of 2019.
But team boss Mattia Binotto stressed: "We are certainly disappointed but we are in a positive mood.
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"We know it's a long season and there are a lot of positives coming out of this weekend."
The biggest piece of good news for the Scuderia was undoubtedly the size of their advantage over Mercedes all weekend. Just two weeks after finishing a minute behind their big rivals in Melbourne, Leclerc was 10 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton before suffering the crippling loss of power.
"Each single race is different. We know certainly that we've got a good package but it needs to be developed," added Binotto.
"The only confidence we may have is at least in Bahrain we were fast enough. It doesn't mean it will be sufficient for the rest of the season but everyone is working hard to develop the car."
What happened to Leclerc's engine?
With Ferrari ruling out an MGU-H fault despite radio messages to Leclerc during the race having initially suggested otherwise, Binotto explained what the team knew so far.
"We are checking the engine now, we do not have yet a clear explanation for what happened," he said. "It is an engine problem. We had miscombustion on one cylinder.
"The engine will be back in Maranello for careful checks. The engine was running at the end of the race, so we will use it on Friday in China and we have an entire Friday to assess its behaviour, functionality and performance."
Binotto added: "It is a single problem that will be easily addressed. It's not the way we are using the engine or mapping or whatever, it's a single component failure that we'll find out."
Leclerc sad, but backs Ferrari
Had Leclerc's progress not been so cruelling checked, the 21-year-old's maiden win at the top level would have ranked as one of the most impressive and accomplished in recent memory.
"[The team] have given us a great car during the weekend and for that they should be proud," said Leclerc. "During the race we were extremely strong then the issue happened and a big disappointment for me and the whole team not to finish where we should have been.
"I'm completely confident they will find what the issues were and they will be fixed for the future.
"I was not satisfied with myself after Melbourne. I did quite a lot of mistakes, especially in Q3 when I had to put the lap together. I didn't here so I'm happy."
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