Brazilian Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will take a grid penalty this weekend, as the team will be fitting him out with a new power unit.
Leclerc ground to a halt early in the third practice session on Saturday morning at the Circuit of the Americas last weekend, with smoke billowing from the back of his SF90. The team confirmed a power unit problem, and he was fitted out with an old Spec 2 unit as a result.
While he didn’t take a penalty as a result of that, Ferrari have taken the decision to fit him out with a fresh Spec 3 for the final two rounds of this year. Having already his allowance for engines this year, this fourth engine will thus trigger an automatic grid penalty. It’s not yet confirmed how many places this will be, as it will be down to what ancillaries Ferrari also want or need to change, like the MGU-H, MGU-K, turbo etc.
“Charles will get a new Power Unit there, as his was damaged on Saturday in Austin, which meant he had to use a previously used and less powerful version for the rest of the weekend.” said Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto.
“Fitting a new PU means taking a grid-penalty in Sao Paulo, but we should be back to our normal performance level and show some fighting spirit to finish the season on a high note.”
Ferrari were distinctly off-colour in the race in America, with Sebastian Vettel plummeting from a front row start to P7 on the first lap before a suspension failure just a handful of laps in. Leclerc wound up a distant P4 at the end, almost a minute from the lead.
As a result of this performance, Binotto says the focus is on recapturing the team’s form in the second half of the season: ““We come to the penultimate round of the season after a frustrating race in Austin, where we were unable to deliver the results we felt we could have done. On Saturday, we missed out on taking a historic seventh consecutive pole by just one hundredth of a second with Sebastian, although we can take comfort from the fact it showed the raw performance was there.”
“On Sunday, Charles’ pace in the first stint was poor although his car performance level was back to normal after the first pit stop. So we will put all this behind us now and look ahead to Brazil and a fresh start.”
“That will be important in order to confirm we are making progress with our car and to take some of that momentum into the winter work. I know that our drivers and the whole team are fully focused on that.”