Brazilian Grand Prix: Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc faces 10-place grid penalty for new engine
Ferrari say Charles Leclerc will have a 10-place grid penalty at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Leclerc, 22, needs a new engine after suffering a failure during the US Grand Prix and that takes him over the permitted number of parts for a season.
Leclerc’s engine failed in final practice in Austin and he had to use an older-specification engine for the remainder of the weekend.
He will have a new version of the latest specification engine in Brazil.
Ferrari were not immediately able to reveal which element of the engine had been replaced with a new one.
Ferrari were beaten to pole position in Austin by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, bringing to an end a run of six consecutive pole positions, and they were uncompetitive in the race.
Rivals suspected the Italian team’s apparent performance drop was related to a rule clarification issued during the weekend governing the use of the engine’s hybrid system – an accusation Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto rejected after the race.
Binotto said in a team preview for the Brazilian Grand Prix that the US race had been “frustrating” because Ferrari “were unable to deliver the results we felt we could have done”.
He described Brazil as a “fresh start”, adding: “Fitting a new power-unit 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.
“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.”
Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel said: “This is another track that has suited us well in the past and treated us well over the last couple of years.
“I remember we had good pace there and Kimi [Raikkonen, Leclerc’s predecessor in the team] was on the podium last year, while two years ago we won the race. I think overall it’s been a good hunting ground for us.
“Certainly, in terms of atmosphere, it’s very special. Brazilians are one of the loudest crowds on the calendar: you can actually hear them when you are in the car and it feels as though they are in the cockpit with you.”
Leclerc, Ferrari’s leading driver this year in third place in the championship behind Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Bottas with two races to go, did not reference his grid penalty in the Ferrari preview but said: “The circuit is really exciting to drive on. It’s a short lap but still features lots of different corner combinations paired with straights.
“When I was younger, I actually always used to select it on my Playstation, so I’ve always been very fond of it!
“The weather in Sao Paulo can be changeable, which means that the conditions on track can vary from day to day and pose unexpected challenges to all teams, mixing things up.” – bbc.com