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Ferrari hope Max Verstappen has reliability woes so Charles Leclerc can compete

Engine issues have played a major role in Ferrari’s stuttering title charge in recent races, and now could do with Red Bull returning the favour if they are to rescue their season

Charles Leclerc is slipping further and further behind Max Verstappen in the title race

A Ferrari engineer has admitted Max Verstappen will need to suffer some more reliability problems this season if Charles Leclerc is to get back into title contention.

Reliability has already played a major role in the title race so far. Early-season bugbears for Red Bull allowed Ferrari to take early control of both tables, but since it is the Scuderia which has been suffering with engine difficulties, allowing Verstappen and Red Bull to open gaps.

Red Bull have won six races in a row and have a 76-point lead over Ferrari in the race for the constructors’ title. In the drivers’ standings, Verstappen leads team-mate Sergio Perez by 46 points while Leclerc is three points further adrift.

That is despite driving from the back of the grid to finish fifth at the Canadian Grand Prix after taking a grid penalty. Ferrari’s senior performance engineer Jock Clear still believes there will be another swing, though, and has predicted that more gremlins could appear for some teams later in the season.

“Not wishing bad luck on Max or not wishing to sort of win it by virtue of DNFs and that sort of thing, but reliability will play a part in this championship later on in the year as well, for everyone,” he told the F1 Nation podcast. “So you know, there’s more dice to roll.”

Leclerc has been exceptional in qualifying so far this season, securing six pole positions and proving his Ferrari’s extraordinary speed over one lap. But he has struggled to convert those poles on race days, with just two wins and three podiums to his name so far this year.

Ferrari engineer Jock Clear has heaped praise upon Leclerc’s performances
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Despite that, Clear believes – with the exception of his spin and contact with the barrier at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – that Leclerc has been virtually flawless this year. “Impressed with with all of his work,” the engineer said. “It’s not just that he’s very good over one lap, his races have been good this year.

“Obviously the Imola mistake was silly. And he knows that, but that won’t happen again. That just shows the level he’s pushing and he’s just desperate to keep in touch with Verstappen and Silverstone obviously offers another opportunity to put it on pole and win a race.

“And that’s the great thing, he’s going to every race knowing he can put it on pole and therefore knowing he can win, and that’s a huge, huge fillip to anybody’s morale and confidence when you’re sitting in a driving seat.

“What we need to do is make sure that we go to every race and we do the best job we can in terms of performance. We make sure we get on the front row and put it on pole and keep the pressure on Max and keep driving as Charles has and as we’ve seen Charles drive all season very, very well.”

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