Charles Leclerc “can only blame himself” for the technical failure that meant he couldn’t even start last Sunday’s Monaco GP, according to 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.
Although quickest in qualifying, the local driver then crashed his Ferrari on his next and final lap – triggering questions about whether it may have been a ‘Rascasse-gate’-style deliberate move.
The FIA, however, insists Leclerc didn’t do it on purpose.
“I don’t think any driver would go out there to severely damage their car to that degree in any circumstance,” said F1 race director Michael Masi.
But the questions then started to be posed in Ferrari’s direction, because the team elected not to change Leclerc’s gearbox – a component that is normally damaged in similar impacts.
Red Bull’s Dr Helut Marko said: “I can say that our car would have been broken.”
La Gazzetta dello Sport correspondent Gianluca Gasparini wondered: “Can we condemn Ferrari’s men who thought the SF21 was ok?”
Ferrari said the problem wasn’t the gearbox itself, but due to a crack in the driveshaft hub.
“No one would do something with the knowledge that the car would break down as soon as it left the box,” the Italian journalist added. “But is it possible that in order to save the gearbox, they didn’t focus on anything else?”
Outspoken 1997 title winner Villeneuve, however, knows exactly where to point the finger of blame.
“He can only blame himself,” the French Canadian told RTBF, referring to Leclerc. “He hit the wall, so we can’t be sad for him.”