Sergio Perez followed up his sprint race victory with a superb drive to triumph in Sunday's main event at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which was marred by shambolic organisation on the final lap.

Perez was the quickest in Saturday's sprint and the Mexican held off Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to claim his second race win of the season.

However, the FIA and race organisers will have questions to answer after crew members and photographers were allowed onto the pit lane during the final lap, despite Esteban Ocon having not pitted.

The Alpine driver came in for his pit stop, but managed to slow down enough to avoid any incident.

Fortunately, there was no taking away from Perez's triumph, his second in Baku after 2021.

Leclerc held pole but two-time reigning Formula One champion Verstappen took the lead in the third lap, with Perez overtaking the Ferrari soon after.

Verstappen clipping the wall on Turn Four allowed Perez to close ground, and there was more bad news for the Dutchman when he pitted just before a safety car, which was brought out after Nyck De Vries spun off the track.

Perez took advantage by pitting during the safety car, and was back out in first place by the time racing resumed.

An investigation for a possible unsafe release yielded no penalty for Perez, who would not relinquish his lead and eventually won by over two seconds.

Behind him, Verstappen and Fernando Alonso tussled for the fastest lap, though it was George Russell who clinched it at the death after a late pit stop.

Leclerc, meanwhile, had to settle for third on a disappointing day for Ferrari.

Red Bull on the charge

Red Bull are the seventh team in F1 history to have won the first four races of a campaign, with the victories split evenly between Perez and Verstappen.

Indeed, Red Bull have now surpassed Mercedes as the team with the most wins in Baku.

Verstappen overtakes legendary Senna

One day short of the 29th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death, Verstappen secured his 81st podium finish.

That is one more than the great Senna managed in his career, which was tragically cut short in 1994.

Charles Leclerc will start on pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for the third season in a row after an impressive qualifying run on Friday.

Ferrari's Leclerc surprisingly outpaced the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who will start second and third respectively in Baku.

The Monegasque driver kept up with Verstappen before putting in a time of one minute and 40.203 seconds to beat his opponent by 0.188s.

"I like city tracks in general," Leclerc told Sky Sports. "It's not only here but Singapore, Monaco, here, a track that I really enjoy. You can really play with the limits, more than on a normal track.

"The limit is a hard limit as it's the wall! You cannot overstep it, so it's about building up to be very close to the wall without ever touching it."

Friday's qualifying session determined the race order for Sunday’s Grand Prix, with another, standalone shorter qualifying session to take place on Saturday ahead of a 17-lap sprint event – the first of six this season.

However, Leclerc is in no doubt where his priorities lie, even though he admitted his Ferrari is unlikely to be able to compete across Sunday's 51 laps of the six-kilometre Baku City Circuit.

"It went well in the last three years, but we have another qualifying tomorrow, so it could be four poles in a row," Leclerc said. "But we have the race on Sunday, which is more important, but I believe we will struggle a bit more as I think Red Bull is still a step ahead."

Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz will start in fourth on Sunday, with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in fifth and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin sixth.

Hamilton's team-mate George Russell will start 11th after a surprise elimination in Q2 on Friday, while there were early crashes from Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri) and Pierre Gasly (Alpine) as a hectic start to qualifying began with red flags, both hitting the barrier on turn three.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:40.203
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.188
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.292
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.813
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.974
6. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) +1.050
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.078
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1.378
9. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1.408
10. Oscar Piastri (McLaren) +1.408

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc put a brake on Red Bull’s dominant streak by securing a surprise pole position for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Formula One bosses have tinkered with the format in Baku by introducing two qualifying sessions.

Friday’s result decides the order for Sunday’s Grand Prix, while a second shorter qualifying session on Saturday determines the grid for a 17-lap dash – the first of six sprint events this season – later in the day.

The sport’s chiefs hope the revamp will enliven the weekend, and Leclerc’s qualifying triumph for Sunday’s main event marks the first non-Red Bull pole of the season.

Max Verstappen, who has won two of the opening three rounds to establish a 15-point championship lead, will line up alongside Leclerc, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez – the only other man to stand on the top step of the podium in 2023 – third.

Lewis Hamilton qualified fifth, a second back from Leclerc. Mercedes team-mate George Russell was eliminated in Q2 and will start 11th on Sunday.

By his own admission, Leclerc’s start to the season has been a “disaster”. He broke down in Bahrain, and then finished only seventh in Saudi Arabia following an engine penalty. Last time out in Australia he failed to complete a single lap after a collision with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

He then arrived on the Caspian Sea amid a report in Italy that he is already plotting his Ferrari exit with a move to Mercedes as Hamilton’s replacement.

But after claiming his third pole in a row on Baku’s streets, the 25-year-old deliberately pointed to the Prancing Horse on his Ferrari overalls.

“The whole team needed this result,” he said. “It is part of our job, for any team in Formula One, to deal with rumours and pressure.

“But it is obviously sometimes a bit more difficult to perform under those circumstances.

“I did not expect it. We came into the weekend thinking it would be a great result if we are in front of the Aston Martins and the Mercedes, and we find ourself on pole.

“We know we are behind on race pace but our job is to maximise the points for later in the season if we are then strong enough to go and get the wins.”

Over at Mercedes, Hamilton might have finished second in Melbourne, but the seven-time world champion was off the pace here.

Hamilton snuck through to Q3, finishing just 0.004 sec ahead of the knocked-out Russell, and then never threatened to challenge the Ferraris and Red Bulls.

“We are trying as hard as we can,” said the 38-year-old. “It’s just getting into a rhythm is not easy on this track.

“We can’t make changes to the car overnight. This is the pace we have. It’s not the position we want as a team. We exist to win. But everyone has that winning mindset.

“We haven’t had an upgrade this weekend but we’re working towards one which will hopefully put us a bit closer to the battle.”

Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz will start fourth, two spots ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, with Lando Norris seventh for McLaren.

Q1 was delayed by 28 minutes after Nyck de Vries and Pierre Gasly both crashed out.

De Vries went in too hot on his brakes at the third corner, missing the apex and slamming into the wall. Out came the red flag, and a 17-minute barrier repair job followed as De Vries’ written-off AlphaTauri was winched away.

The running had restarted for less than two minutes before the red flags were deployed for a second time. Turn 3 claimed another victim as Gasly thudded into the wall and came to a halt.

“I couldn’t stop the car,” said the Frenchman, who missed the majority of practice when his Alpine caught fire. The two men will start Sunday’s 51-lap Grand Prix from the back of the pack.

Charles Leclerc has brushed off reports suggesting he will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, reaffirming his commitment to Ferrari.

The Monegasque driver is in his fifth season with the Italian constructor and is looking for a first podium of the 2023 season after a muted start.

But amid lingering speculation over the future of seven-time world champion Hamilton at Mercedes, Leclerc has been linked with replacing the Briton.

Ahead of this weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, however, Leclerc denied reports he is set to swap teams, though he did not explicitly rule out a future move.

"No, not yet," he said. "Not for the moment. For now, I am fully focused on the project I am in today, which is Ferrari and I fully trust and am confident for the future.

"Then we will see, but I am fully confident for the project of Ferrari. I'm fully committed to Ferrari and I love Ferrari.

"It has always been a dream for me to be in this team and my main priority is to win a world championship with this team. So it's not something in my mind."

Hamilton, who picked up a first podium of the year at the Australian Grand Prix, sees his contract expire with Mercedes at the end of the current season.

Speculation over Leclerc succeeding him has had no impact on his own negotiations though, with Hamilton stressing his own commitment to the Silver Arrows.

"I think maybe some of the drivers all have different relationships with different bosses and stuff," Hamilton said. "I like where I am.

"I love my team, and I'm grateful for the journey we've been on and what we're working on moving forwards."

Ralf Schumacher has told Max Verstappen to either leave Formula 1 or accept the new Sprint Race weekend format, which will debut at the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The 'Sprint Shootout' gets introduced this weekend and will set the grid for Saturday's Sprint Race, which means the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix is now determined by Friday's qualifying. 

It leaves just one free practice session in Baku with FP2 and 3 being replaced, and is the first of six Sprint Race weekends in 2023 after only hosting three in 2021 and 2022.

This comes after Verstappen issued a 'quit threat' if F1 continues to make race weekend changes, but Schumacher believes the championship will thrive either way. 

"The past, the present and the future have shown or will show that Formula 1 is much bigger than any individual," he told Sky Sports Germany.

"Bernie Ecclestone is also gone, and without him Formula 1 wouldn't exist - and now it’s more successful than ever.

"So Verstappen should either pack his things and leave, or just accept it as it is. I understand his attitude because there are a lot of risks.

"But still, he gets paid to do it. If he wants to go, then he has to go. Formula 1 will not perish, as much I love him."

Guenther Steiner has hailed the changes saying it is what fans want, and believes F1 could eventually keep adding the format to more race weekends. 

"I don't know if we will do it every race weekend," the Haas team principal told Reuters. "Maybe do a few more or maybe do half of the calendar - the F1 promoter will know what to do.

"At the moment, there is more demand for races [than slots available] so how can you get more races in, more competition, more racing if we cannot do more than 24 events? So just make the event double count."

Will Baku finally have a repeat winner?

In six previous races at Baku, there has been a different winner each time. Nico Rosberg won its inaugural Grand Prix in 2016, before Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez and defending winner Verstappen all stood on the top step.

With two of that six no longer in F1 and Bottas now in an Alfa Romeo, chances are only three of them are in with a shot of victory. However, given Red Bull have dominated the opening three races to this season, they will be odds-on favourite to win again on Sunday.

To many, the battle will be between Perez and Verstappen with the double world champion currently 15 points ahead of his team-mate in the standings. If Red Bull wins again, then that will extend Hamilton’s winless run to 27 - his worst in F1 - after Mercedes have struggled since the start of 2022.

However, Fernando Alonso has stood on the podium in each race this season. Therefore, should Red Bull encounter any problems then maybe the Aston Martin driver will extend Baku's record. 

Charles Leclerc faces worst ever start to F1 season

Charles Leclerc's retirement in Australia means he is the first Ferrari driver since Felipe Massa in 2009 to have two DNFs in the opening three races of a season. For the other round, Saudi Arabia, he only finished seventh which leaves Leclerc 10th in the championship on six points.

It is a stark contrast to this time 12 months ago, where the Ferrari driver was leading the championship by 34 points after winning two of the opening three races. Should he fail to score a point in Baku then that will make it Leclerc's worst start to an F1 season, despite driving for Alfa Romeo in his debut year.

Championship Standings

Drivers

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 69Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 54Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) 45Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 38Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) 20

Constructors 

Red Bull 123Aston Martin 65Mercedes 56Ferrari 26McLaren 12 

Ferrari have lost their appeal to the FIA over a time penalty handed to Carlos Sainz at the Australian Grand Prix.

Sainz was punished following a collision with Fernando Alonso during the race on April 2.

He was demoted from fourth to 12th place after making contact with Alonso's Aston Martin in a chaotic penultimate-lap standing restart.

There were another two crashes prior to a red flag being waved for a third time in Melbourne, where Red Bull's Max Verstappen triumphed.

Ferrari appealed the decision, but on Tuesday it was confirmed the Italian team had been unsuccessful.

"There is no significant and relevant new element that was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned. The Petition is therefore dismissed," an FIA statement read after a hearing on Tuesday.

"We considered the fact that this collision took place at the first corner on the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents.

"However, we decided that notwithstanding that it was the equivalent of a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for SAI to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so. We therefore imposed a five-second time penalty."

Ferrari said they were "naturally disappointed" with the decision, adding they felt "that we had provided sufficient significant new elements for the FIA to re-examine the decision especially in the context of the particular conditions and multiple incidents that occurred during the final restart."

Their statement concluded: "We are however respectful of the process and of the FIA decision. We are now looking forward to entering broader discussions with the FIA, Formula One, and all the teams, with the aim of further improving the policing of our sport, in order to ensure the highest level of fairness and consistency that our sport deserves.

Ferrari will begin their challenge to a costly time penalty imposed on Carlos Sainz at the Australian Grand Prix when they take part in a hearing on Tuesday.

Motorsport's world governing body, the FIA, confirmed the Italian team would get their chance to petition for a review of the five-second penalty when they meet with stewards.

The punishment was imposed on Sainz after his collision with Fernando Alonso during the April 2 race.

Sainz was demoted from fourth to 12th place after making contact with his Spanish compatriot's Aston Martin following a chaotic penultimate-lap standing restart.

There were another two crashes prior to a red flag being waved for a third time at Albert Park.

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were involved in a collision, while Logan Sargeant ran into the AlphaTauri of Nyck de Vries but none of those four drivers were penalised.

Sainz was not impressed with the punishment imposed on him and Scuderia team principal Fred Vasseur confirmed Ferrari would appeal against the decision that cost the driver a points finish.

In a statement issued on Friday, the FIA said: "The stewards of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix have received a letter from Nikolas Tombazis, single-seater director of the FIA, attaching a petition by competitor Scuderia Ferrari dated 6th April 2023 under article 14 of the FIA international sporting code, seeking a review of the stewards' decision number 46 made within the framework of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix and requesting that the stewards: 'consider such request and to make a determination whether or not a significant and relevant new element exists in relation to the decision/incident'.

"The driver(s) and team representative(s) are required to report to the stewards for a virtual hearing to be held on 18th April 2023 at 0800 CET in relation to the petition."

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur believes the penalty issued to Red Bull for their cost cap breach was "too light".

The championship leaders were fined $7million and lost 10 per cent of their wind tunnel time after being deemed to have breached the cost cap in 2021, Formula One's inaugural season with the new regulations.

Already having the least time in the wind tunnel due to being crowned champions in 2022, Red Bull's aerodynamic development over the course of the season could be hindered – potentially opening the door for their rivals.

However, Vasseur does not see it that way and believes Red Bull already have a significant enough advantage, rendering the punishment as "marginal" in his eyes.

"The penalty for me was very low," Vasseur said in a recent media call, per ESPN.

"If you consider that basically we will improve a bit less than a second over the season in terms of aero, you get a penalty of 10 percent of this it's one-tenth and as it's not a linear progression it's probably less.

"You are allowed to spend this money somewhere else, so it means for me the penalty is marginal.

"If you consider that you have an advantage at the beginning of the season because you spend more the year before, then the compensation...

"I don't want to say that they didn't do a good job because I think honestly that they did a very good job on the car. I'm not trying to find an excuse at all. It's not this. But if you ask me if the penalty is too light, I say yes."

Charles Leclerc has asked supporters to respect his privacy and stop turning up at his house.

The Ferrari driver, who had his watch stolen in Italy last year, is unsure how details of his home address in Monaco became public.

While more than willing to greet supporters elsewhere, Leclerc draws a line at them appearing on his property.

"For the past few months, my home address has somehow become public, leading to people gathering beneath my apartment, ringing my bell, and asking for pictures and autographs," Leclerc wrote on Instagram.

"While I'm always happy to be there for you and I truly appreciate your support, please respect my privacy and refrain from coming to my house.

"I'll make sure to stop for everyone when you see me on the streets or at the track, but I won't be coming downstairs if you visit my home.

"Your support, both in person and on social media, means the world to me, but there is a boundary that should not be crossed."

Leclerc has suffered two DNFs in the first three races of the 2023 season and has just six points to his name.

Speaking after last week's Australian Grand Prix, Leclerc said: "[It is] just extremely frustrating. I mean, it's the worst start to the season ever, really. It is really frustrating."

Charles Leclerc rued "the worst start to the season ever" as his Ferrari posted a second retirement of 2023 at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Monegasque spun off on three turns in at Albert Park after a collision with Aston Martin's Lance Stroll, ending his race inside the opening lap.

Following a 39th-lap retirement in Bahrain with engine trouble and a seventh-place finish in Saudi Arabia, it continues a rough campaign for Leclerc.

Speaking afterwards, the 25-year-old refused to place the blame at Stroll's feet, but acknowledged his first three races are a nadir in his Formula 1 career.

"[It is] just extremely frustrating," he said. "I mean, it's the worst start to the season ever, really. It is really frustrating.

"I'm not pointing the finger at Lance because I think he had no choice once Fernando [Alonso] slowed down the car the second time.

"For me, it was just impossible to see whether Lance was staying behind Fernando or if he was just in between. I obviously didn't think he was there."

It marked a pointless day for Ferrari, with Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz demoted from fourth to 12th with a controversial five-second time penalty.

The Spaniard was handed the punishment for running into Alonso amid the race's restart in the wake of its second red flag, with just two laps to go.

After a rolling restart the third time around ensured he could not build an advantage to keep him in the points, Sainz was left fuming afterwards.

"I think it's the most unfair penalty I've seen in my life," he told media. "I [would] prefer to go back to the stewards, have a conversation with them.

"Maybe I can come back and talk [then]. I honestly cannot do it [now]. It's too unfair, and I don't feel well to speak."

Lewis Hamilton feels Mercedes have shown progress after the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix but Toto Wolff is still determined to see the team challenge for victory.

The Briton finished fifth in the second race of the season, improving on his seventh-place position on the starting grid as Sergio Perez led a one-two Red Bull lockout.

Team-mate George Russell meanwhile provided the Silver Arrows with their first podium of the year, after he was elevated to third following a penalty against Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso.

After a build-up dominated by the topic of the seven-time world champion's future, Hamilton acknowledged he was satisfied to make some steps in the right direction, no matter how small.

"We got some great points for the team," he told Sky Sports. "George got third and he did amazing. I went forwards. I'm really grateful to have come from seventh to fifth.

"The strategy didn't really work out for me, the set-up was a little bit off. [There is] lots to work on but there are positives to take away from it.

"I could only match [Russell's] pace rather than be quicker this weekend, but I'll work hard to make sure we're in a better position next weekend."

After taking fifth and seventh at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Saudi Arabia represented an improvement for Mercedes as a whole.

But Wolff is keen to see the team back among the frontrunners on the grid, stating of their performance; "We want to race for wins soon. We are [the] first loser.

"The question is what is [our] benchmark. If you look at the Red Bulls, they are just so quick. I think we understand the car more and I am looking optimistic for the future.

"We are making big elephant steps at the moment. But it is going to be a long time till we can challenge Red Bull. It is a super fun journey to climb back."

Russell, who missed out on standing on the podium before he was retroactively awarded third, acknowledges their rivals remain far ahead of the pack, but believes Mercedes are closer than many think.

"You have to give credit to what Red Bull have done," he added. "The gap they have to the rest of the field is bigger than we have seen since perhaps Mercedes in 2014. It is a serious, serious gap.

"But we know we didn't make the right decisions over the winter and we can regain some of that performance quicker than you would do ordinarily. All is not lost. We'll focus on ourselves and get the fundamentals right."

Mercedes posted a better day than rivals Ferrari, who saw Charles Leclerc forced to take a 10-place grid penalty before the race for a power unit change.

The Monegasque driver finished seventh, one place behind team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr., leaving team principal Frederic Vasseur to mull over a below-par weekend.

"It's not a good result," he added. "We didn't have the pace, we have to be honest. We have positive points from the weekend.

"[But] we have to understand where the lack of performance is coming from. It is not coming from the management."

Red Bull still managed to get on pole for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Sergio Perez topping the timesheets after Max Verstappen's driveshaft issue, and Charles Leclerc conceded the defending champions are "on another planet".

Verstappen was stunningly knocked out of Q2 after the mechanical failure forced him to limp back to the pits.

That left the fight for pole in Jeddah wide open but Perez shut the door for Red Bull's rivals, claiming his second career pole at the circuit where he claimed his first last year with a lap of one minute and 28.265 seconds.

Leclerc was second for Ferrari, but his 10-place grid drop for taking on too many control electronics units will see him start 12th, with Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso taking his place on the front row after qualifying third.

While Leclerc, who challenged Verstappen last season before reliability and strategy problems dashed his hopes, was pleased with his performance, he was realistic about the Scuderia's capabilities compared to those of Red Bull.

"It has been a very difficult weekend in terms of pace for us but on my lap I think I put everything into it and it was really on the limit," said Leclerc, who was just 0.155 seconds behind Perez.

"On the other hand, Red Bull are on another planet and we are struggling a little bit, so we need to keep pushing, but that is what we are doing as a team.

"Tomorrow isn't going to be easy. I have a 10-place grid penalty, so we will be starting a little bit further back, but we will focus on the race and hopefully come back to the front as quickly as possible." 

Asked about apparent improvements in race pace in Friday's second free practice session, Leclerc replied: "The race pace looked quite good but it's very difficult to compare because in FP2 everyone is running a different programme, but it seemed a little bit better. 

"We will see but it is not going to be easy because I think everyone is going to be very close on race pace."

Alonso's mood was in stark contrast to that of Leclerc, the two-time world champion clearly revelling in being a car that can compete at the front again.

"Qualifying was our weak spot in Bahrain but we performed very well [here] so let’s see what we can do. It is amazing," Alonso said.

"We are confident, the gap on the long runs [on Friday] was affected by traffic, so we feel very strong. The strongest point of the car is the long-run pace and how we treat the tyres, so it should be better on Sunday."

George Russell will start third for Mercedes after qualifying fourth, four spots ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Russell will have Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz for company on the second row, with Lance Stroll in the other Aston Martin behind them on an intriguing grid.

Verstappen, who has won the last two world titles and tasted victory in the Bahrain season-opener, will start in 15th position.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) [has 10-place grid penalty]
3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
4. George Russell (Mercedes)
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
6. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
9. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
10. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

Sergio Perez has taken new power unit components ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver has taken a new energy store (ES) and control electronics (CE) for the second race of the 2023 Formula One season.

No penalty will be issued for the Mexican driver, though he finds himself in a tricky situation for the remainder of the campaign as only two ES changes are allowed over the course of the season, while three CE's are permitted.

Perez is now in a similar situation to that of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who was forced into an ES change ahead of the season opener in Bahrain and has taken another unit for this weekend – resulting in a 10-place grid penalty.

Leclerc, alongside team-mate Carlos Sainz and McLaren's Lando Norris, has also taken a second internal combustion engine (ICE) for Saudi Arabia, with three permitted during a season, while both Leclerc and Norris have taken an additional MGU-H.

Norris has seen further changes in the form of a new turbocharger, MGU-K and exhaust system for the weekend in Saudi Arabia.

Max Verstappen leads the championship standings ahead of team-mate Perez after a Red Bull one-two in Bahrain, with Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso third.

Charles Leclerc will receive a 10-place grid penalty at this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after Ferrari fitted a third electronics control unit. 

At the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Ferrari needed to use a second ECU before Leclerc retired from the race after suffering another problem with the component.

Across a season, drivers are restricted to using just two ECUs and going over the permitted amount results in a grid penalty.

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said: "On Sunday, we had two different issues. The first one was on the Sunday morning, when we did the fire up, and the second one was in the race.

"Unfortunately, it was two times the control electronics box and it’s something that we never experienced in the past.

"I hope now it’s under control. We have a deep analysis on this.

"Unfortunately, we’ll have to take the penalty in Jeddah because we have only a pool of two control units for the season."

Leclerc was a dejected figure in Bahrain, where championship favourites Red Bull claimed a dominant one-two with winner Max Verstappen coming in a huge 39 seconds ahead of third-placed Fernando Alonso.

The Ferrari driver, who was third at time of his retirement, described Red Bull as being "on another planet" but Vasseur has no worries about Leclerc's mindset or his team's chances this season. 

"It’s obvious Charles is motivated," added Vasseur, who is in his debut year as Ferrari boss.

"We have done one race of 23. He’s full push with the team, trying to get the best for everyone.

"The penalty is not good news, but it’s not the end of the season. Let’s see what happens in Jeddah, and what could be the outcome, even with the penalty.

"But don't imagine for even half a second he could be demotivated.

"He's fully convinced, he's working with us, pushing the team, pushing everybody in a positive way and nothing else."

If Ferrari need to replace any further parts of Leclerc's car in Saudi Arabia, the grid penalty will increase further than 10 grid spots.

Charles Leclerc believes Red Bull are on "another planet" to their Formula One rivals after they dominated the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen's title defence got off to a comfortable start with a victory on Sunday, with his team-mate Sergio Perez second and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso in third.

Leclerc looked on course for a podium finish for Ferrari, but an engine failure led to his retirement.

The issue came despite Ferrari changing a component ahead of the race, one of only two permitted alterations allowed over the course of the season, which could lead to further pain for the Scuderia in future races.

While the cause of the problem was unknown to Leclerc, he made it clear the team must secure as many points as possible to keep Red Bull in sight.

"I have no idea what happened to the car when I lost the power, the only thing I know is that I did, I don't know for what reason," he told Sky Sports F1.

"I don't know if it is related to the change we had this morning, so I don't want to comment on that, but it is a shame.

"We expected to be on the back foot this weekend, especially in the race to Red Bull. That team is on another planet right now.

"But that's what exactly why most weekends we need to make sure we bring maximum points possible home and we didn't manage to do so."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.