Ferrari Team Principal Frederic Vasseur will not level any blame on Charles Leclerc following his crash on the way to the grid for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The Monegasque driver was set to start from second but found his way into the barriers at Turn 6 after suffering an electronics issue which pitched him into a spin.

“It’s a system issue where the system shut off the hydraulics and engine,” Vasseur clarified. “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.”

Despite a multi-car collision on the opening lap triggering a red flag, Leclerc was unable to return to the garage to allow for any attempt at repairing his car as the issue persisted.

“He started to switch off and switch on [the car] and so on. The issue is he made 30 meters and then found himself in the same situation so it was better to stop,” Vasseur explained. “No way to recover. When the system switches off you don’t have any more steering or gearbox.”

Having geared its preparation towards Sunday’s Grand Prix as opposed to the Sprint sessions, Vasseur was frustrated to see Leclerc fail to make the race start.

“It’s very frustrating for Charles and for the team,” he admitted. But the issue is that strategically over the weekend we put all the effort into the long run to save tyres.

“We didn’t use new tires for the [Shootout], we didn’t use new tires for the race [Sprint], we put everything on the long runs and we didn’t take the start.

“For sure it’s frustrating but it was more than disappointing, but I’m sure that my team will be back and we will be focused on Vegas.”

The Ferrari SF-23 of Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari is recovered back to the pits on the back of a truck.
05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Price / XPB Images

Leclerc’s failure to make the start is Ferrari’s second non-start in four races after a fuel-system leak kept Carlos Sainz out of the Qatar Grand Prix.

Ferrari have struggled to pick up points in recent races, with Leclerc’s progress in Mexico also limited after picking up damage from contact with Sergio Perez on the first lap.

“Today is not Charles’ fault at all. Someone told me that on social media they were complaining about Charles, but without the gearbox and the power steering you can’t do something,” the Ferrari boss sympathised.

“Now we have to stay calm, to understand what’s happened to avoid any issues in the future and I think the pace over the weekend was not that bad.”

Ferrari currently sit third in the standings, 20 points behind Mercedes, who endured a nightmare Sunday in Sao Paulo to only accumulate four points.

But with Sainz only able to record a sixth-place finish, Vasseur is well aware Ferrari squandered an opportunity to narrow the gap to the German marque.

“We were in a good position today and it’s a missed opportunity because we were catching up Mercedes a little bit over the weekend but with Charles on the front row with three sets of new tyres it could have been much better,” the Frenchman conceded.

“We still have two attempts in Vegas and Abu Dhabi. Vegas could be a chaotic one, and if we have the same pace as this weekend and Mercedes has the same pace as this weekend we have an opportunity.”

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