Ahead of last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, Scuderia Ferrari promised upgrades that would allow them to regain the advantage over the charging Red Bulls. However, despite the pace definitely being there, the race ended in disaster for the team.

Charles Leclerc suffered a power unit failure while in the lead of the race, giving him his first retirement of the season. Meanwhile, an early spin for Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari meant that he needed to go on a recovery drive with a damaged floor for most of the race. The Spaniard could only manage to bring his Prancing Horse up to fourth place, behind the two Red Bulls and George Russell's Mercedes.

Leclerc had led the championship until this weekend, but has now been overtaken in the standings by Red Bull's Max Verstappen after the latter secured his third straight race victory. Red Bull is also 26 points ahead in the constructors' standings, thanks to a strong 1-2 finish by their drivers in Barcelona.

Ferrari did show an improvement in pace, with Leclerc securing pole position once more. Verstappen started the race behind him, and unlike in previous races, the Red Bull lacked the pace to eat up the Ferrari easily on the straights, coupled with the Dutchman's DRS issues. Leclerc was able to stay comfortably in front before Verstappen slipped off the track in turn four, sending him a few places behind.

Nearly halfway through the race and with a comfortable 12-second lead, Leclerc suddenly groaned in anguish as he felt his engine lose power. Everyone looked stunned in the Ferrari garage as Leclerc got on his radio to tell the team that his Power Unit has shut down. It was clear that nothing could be done as the Ferrari mechanics immediately cleared space in the garage to park the stricken Ferrari. Leclerc was able to limp back to the pits, giving up the lead in the first race where they clearly showed superior race pace over the Red Bulls.

"Well, I'm obviously disappointed as all the team is at the moment," said Leclerc after the race. "We cannot afford that too many times," he added, pointing out that every point counts if they want to win the championship. He knows this full well, after having led by 40 points at an earlier stage in the season. Now, Verstappen is six points ahead.

"We just need to understand what happened for it not to happen again," he said. However, he also saw a number of positive things from the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. The Ferrari's pace has definitely improved, and they appear to have better tyre management over their rivals.

The Mercedes cars have also improved by leaps and bounds, with Russell finishing in third place. Lewis Hamilton also managed to recover to fifth place, despite getting sent all the way back to 19th place after a shunt with Magnussen in the early stages.

Charles Leclerc
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc POOL via AFP / Giuseppe CACACE