Charles Leclerc described Max Verstappen’s comments about Ferrari’s power unit performance “a joke” following a difficult race at the United States Grand Prix.
The FIA issued a technical directive regarding the way fuel flow is measured ahead of last weekend’s race in Austin, and while Ferrari was competitive in qualifying, it struggled in the race. That led to accusations from Verstappen that the directive had slowed Ferrari; the Red Bull driver saying in the post-race press conference that he was “not surprised. At all. About it. After what came out. So that explains everything.”
When those comments were put to the Ferrari drivers, Leclerc hit back at his rival.
“I think it’s a joke, to be completely honest,” Leclerc said. “He has no clue. He’s not in the team. So we know exactly what we are doing and I don’t know why he’s speaking, he doesn’t know anything about us.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto also defended Ferrari’s power unit performance on Sunday night and says any drop in straight-line speed was due to car set-up.
“It’s true that we were not gaining on the straight as much as in the past races, but true as well that I think we matched our competitors in cornering – at least in qualifying. The trade-off between grip-limited and power-limited has been moved this weekend as a test on our side… As simple as that. We were competitive in qualifying, and now there is something in the race we need to understand, and then see what’s best for the next races in terms of the trade-off.”
Leclerc also suffered a power unit issue on Saturday morning that led to Ferrari replacing his PU ahead of qualifying, and with Sebastian Vettel retiring early in the race, Binotto said there was a drop in performance on that front too.
“It was not down by quite a lot, it was slightly down, which is what we are expecting between an upgrade of engines – it was power unit two, and not the third we introduced in Monza,” he said.
“It will be shipped back to Maranello. We had an extended oil leakage. Not clear where it was coming from, so we need to analyze it and understand where it’s coming from, and eventually decide whether it is still to be used or not.”