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Why Ferrari was forced into a last-minute Leclerc engine change

RacingNews365's Paolo Filisetti explains why a late cal was made by Ferrari, whilst also exploring how Red Bull's Singapore ghosts haunted it in Monaco.

Leclerc race Monaco
To news overview © XPBimages

Charles Leclerc's engine was replaced by Ferrari at the Monaco Grand Prix after Free Practice 3 due to the anomalous signal of an oil temperature sensor. 

The team swapped out the power unit, which was also used in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for the one used in Miami, as the SF-24 sported a series of venting gills in the shape of four slits at the base of the engine cover to keep the temperatures under control. 

With the minute attention to detail, Ferrari removed every possible obstacle in Leclerc's way, allowing him to claim an emotional victory, his first since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, having grabbed pole position. 

When it came to the crunch in Q3, Leclerc recovered the feeling in the SF-24 with its front-end, thus boosting his confidence after some minor set-up changes after FP3 had not quite worked for in Q1 and Q2. 

In the end, a slight increase in front downforce was enough for Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to regain some, if not all, of the feeling they enjoyed in practice in the top 10 shootout, with the feeling of grip from the front of the car the major overwhelming factor across the weekend, especially when compared to Red Bull.

. Ferrari and McLaren proved, in Red Bull's darkest weekend in terms of competitiveness, to be two extremely solid rivals to the Milton Keynes based team. The RB20, although it remains unquestionably the reference car, is proving to be, "peaky".

Ferrari and McLaren proved on what was Red Bull's worst weekend of the season in competitiveness to be solid rivals to the Milton Keynes-based team, with the RB20 remaining peaky, if not still the car to beat. 

It struggled since Friday's practice, with only a suitable balance being found ahead of FP3, as Max Verstappen's talent alone was able to fill some of the gap between the cars in terms of balance.

Red Bull's engineers had worked on the camber and toe-in/out angle of the front suspension, but also the ride-heights with the idea being to reduce the understeer both Verstappen and Sergio Perez were facing. 

That Verstappen took sixth and Perez 18th in qualifying (before the Mexican was bumped up to 16th after Haas was disqualified for a rear-wing infringement), represented tangible proof of a complex weekend for the team, invoking memories of Singapore 2023.

There, it was clear that the bumps on the Marina Bay track had undermined the balance of the RB19, and cost Red Bull a clean-sweep of race wins across the season. 

As Verstappen himself declared, the problems Red Bull had could not be solved with a complete set-up change, with the RB20 a complex masterpiece of interaction between the dynamic components (read suspension) and the aerodynamic platform.

Ferrari showed up with a precise correlation between the set-up drawn up in the simulator, which Red Bull did not.

New Ferrari rear wing

In Monaco, Ferrari, like all the teams, used a set-up with maximum downforce. A new rear-wing was introduced with a flap with sharp ends to increase the maximum surface area to generate a higher load - and thus increase downforce.

Cooling Ferrari

During the race, the Ferrari engine was cooled by four slots on the underside of the hood. This solution is certainly not optimal in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, but this is not something that is a problem on the streets of Monaco. 

Also interesting:

Is Ocon's future now in danger after the incident in Monaco? And has the track become too outdated for F1? In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look back at last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. Tune in below!

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here.

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying