Ferrari announced after Miami that Leclerc’s long-time race engineer Xavi Marcos was being moved on to a new role, although it is not clear at the moment what position he will take.

Marcos is being replaced by Ferrari’s current performance engineer Bryan Bozzi, who has been with the team for 10 years.

PLUS: The risk in Leclerc’s Ferrari engineer swap

It is understood that this is the first time Ferrari has implemented a mid-season race engineer change like this since Rob Smedley was brought in to work with Felipe Massa from the 2006 European Grand Prix as replacement for Gabriele Delli Colli.

The rareness of such an in-season change has prompted a fair degree of intrigue about the reasons for Ferrari making such a move now, which has only been fuelled further by Leclerc saying he was not involved in the decision-making process.

Asked by Autosport to explain what prompted the change, and how much of a risk it was to be done amid an ultra-close fight with McLaren and Red Bull, Leclerc said: “Obviously it’s very, very tight in the front and everything makes a difference.

“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.

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“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.”

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While Ferrari has previously not offered many details about the thinking behind the engineering change, team principal Fred Vasseur explained at Imola why he went for it.

“Bryan was there before me,” explained Vasseur. “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.”