Charles Leclerc says he was not aware of any plan to replace his long-standing race engineer Xavi Marcos until he was informed by Ferrari of the change.

Last week, the Scuderia announced that Marcos would be assigned to a new role at Ferrari while his engineering responsibilities with Leclerc would be entrusted to the Italian outfit’s current performance engineer Bryan Bozzi.

Ferrari’s decision to swap race engineers during a season is a break with tradition and a bold move.

The last time a similar change occurred was back in 2006 when Rob Smedley was appointed as Felipe Massa’s race engineer.

When questioned about the rationale behind the change and the potential risks involved, especially given F1’s tight battle at the front, Leclerc shed little light on the situation.

“Obviously it’s very, very tight in the front and everything makes a difference,” said the Monegasque at Imola on Thursday.

“However, the decision was made between the team and Xavi. They’ve had other plans in mind, I guess, and it was communicated to me right after Miami.

“But having said that, Bryan, who will take the role of Xavi from now onwards, is a person I have been working with since I arrived in Ferrari.

“He’s always been my performance engineer, so he knows exactly how everything works. So, it’s not like I’m starting from zero and it’s going to be a complete readaptation.

“It’s been super smooth until now, and I’m sure it will continue that way and we’ll be at our 100% already from this weekend. That’s all I can say.”

While details surrounding the engineer change were scarce, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur stepped forward to explain the reasons behind the move.

Bryan was there before me,” explained the Frenchman. “He was with Charles for a long time, and they have a very, very good technical collaboration. They rate each other very highly.

“It was, I think, the normal step for Bryan also, and you know that we are in a kind of continuous improvement. We were thinking that Bryan was a step forward for us and, at the end of the day, we are fighting for thousandths of a second.

“If you have the feeling that you have something a bit better somewhere, it’s always good to go for it and not to say, let’s stay like we are.

“I’m really convinced that Bryan is very good. He has experience of the car, and the experience of the crew. He knows everybody in the team and the adaptation will be very easy.”

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