Charles Leclerc is set to receive a five-place grid penalty at the United States Grand Prix, according to reports.
The penalty is said to be for taking a sixth Ferrari engine of the season, three more than the maximum permitted.
The Monegasque driver has already incurred power-unit penalties at the Canadian and Belgian Grands Prix, dropping to the back and 10 places on the grid respectively.
In Austin, it will be only five, although in any case Leclerc is now competing only for second position in the World Championship after Max Verstappen secured back-to-back Drivers’ titles at the previous round in Japan.
The new engine will provide an upgrade, but there are conflicting reports about whether this enhances reliability.
The Italian edition of Motorsport.com suggests that is the case and that “the specifications we will see on the 2023 units will be tested in the last four GPs after the FIA allowed [Ferrari] to work on reliability have been introduced into the power unit”.
However, the reliable formu1a.uno have denied there is any reliability upgrade in the internal combustion engine.
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The engine change will apply only to Leclerc and not his team-mate, Carlos Sainz, says the Motorsport.com report, with the Spaniard therefore tasked with trying to prevent Red Bull from claiming pole position via either Verstappen or Sergio Perez.
The report adds: “The introduction of the fresh 066/7 has a strategic function – the working group led by Enrico Gualtieri has intervened on the technical aspects that have undermined the reliability of the Ferrari power unit and, with the full agreement of the FIA, changes have been made that introduce new solutions (materials rather than treatments) that will be tested with a view to 2023.”
What is left for Ferrari to accomplish this season?
With Verstappen confirmed as Drivers’ champion and Red Bull certain to add the Constructors’ crown, Ferrari appear to be setting their sights on getting as prepared as they possibly can be for 2023.
Unable to fulfil their early promise this year, which brought Leclerc two wins in the opening three races, you sense the end-of-campaign review at Maranello will need to be a lengthy, detailed affair.
Every aspect of the operation – technical, leadership, strategy, drivers – will need to hold up their hands and admit they could have done better during 2022, and put forward ways to find improvement.
This engine development is one area on which they are focusing, but it also remains to be seen whether any changes in personnel are deemed necessary.
At this stage, even a win or two in the last four races will amount to only scant consolation – because so many opportunities have been tossed away to
increase the four victories Ferrari have notched up.
It is four more than in 2020 and 2021 combined, but a failure to get even some of the most basic requirements right has turned what had looked such a promising campaign back in the spring into one of underachievement and anguish.