Leclerc gets Canada grid penalty after recent reliability woes

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Charles Leclerc is set for a 10-place grid penalty at least for the Canadian Grand Prix after taking new power unit components.

After recent reliability issues in Spain and Baku, the Monegasque was fitted with a new ICE, MGU-K and MGU-H on Friday in Montreal, all of which were within his permitted allocation for the season.

However, post-practice, Ferrari also fitted a new Control Electronics, his third of the year and thus triggering an automatic 10-place drop for the race.

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That could increase to a back of the grid start should the team also decide to fit a new turbocharger on Saturday, a move that is considered highly likely.

This is after Ferrari confirmed the unit that failed in Baku was damaged beyond repair in addition to the lost turbo and MGU-H from the problem in Spain.

“Obviously I'm starting a little bit more in the back,” Leclerc conceded when asked about the penalty. “But I think it was the best decision to make, so let’s see how it goes.

"The pace is there so hopefully we can come back to where we want to be, although the overtaking was a little bit more difficult than I expected today [during practice]."

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In FP2, Leclerc finished just 0.081s behind pacesetter Max Verstappen and was satisfied with the progress made.

"Our main focus going forward will be in preparing our race in the best possible way," he added. "It was a positive first day overall, we did a good job improving our set-up from FP1 to FP2.

“It is pretty close [to Red Bull]. The race pace we need to work on. It’s a bit difficult to have a clear picture because I was on a different compound all the time, but overall it didn’t look too bad - so that’s good.

"Track evolution is usually quite big at this track, which was also the case today. The wind was quite strong, but it didn’t affect my running much."

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This weekend, F1 returns to Montreal for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Leclerc was pleased to be once again tackling the unique Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. 

"It’s really good to be back at this track," he said. "It has a lot of character, and it’s always fun to drive on circuits where you have to ride the kerbs so much."