New Ferrari PU given to Leclerc, incurs grid penalty

Date published: September 22 2021 - Henry Valantine

Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] ponders at Zandvoort. Netherlands, September 2021.

Ferrari have confirmed Charles Leclerc will use a new engine with an upgraded hybrid system at Sochi, which will demote him to the back of the grid on Sunday.

Team principal Mattia Binotto had confirmed the new power unit would be arriving “very soon” with upgrades, and it will be introduced on Leclerc’s car at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

The team will pay the price by seeing the Monegasque relegated to the rear of the field when the race starts, but they added that this introduction will also gather key data for the team as they look to steal a march on their rivals for when the 2022 engines are introduced.

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It has not yet been declared when Carlos Sainz will receive a penalty of his own for running the new power unit, but the Scuderia confirmed that will be decided at a moment which will suit the team best in the future as they “compromise between competitiveness and the impact of the penalty.”

“[The new power unit’s] main purpose is to gain experience for the 2022 car project,” the team said in a statement on Wednesday.

“A great deal of effort has gone into this, both technically and logistically, and so as to be able to use it as soon as possible, its introduction will be staggered between the drivers.

“Charles will be the first to have the new hybrid system. This decision is a precautionary measure relating to the potential risk of using the battery pack damaged in his Hungarian GP accident.

“In Sochi, Leclerc will have a brand new power unit and will therefore start from the back of the grid. As to when the updated hybrid system is fitted to Carlos’ car, that will be decided following an evaluation of the right compromise between competitiveness and the impact of the penalty.”

The team lost ground to McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship after their rivals gained maximum points on Ferrari’s home turf at Monza at the last race, meaning the Scuderia are now 15 points behind the Woking-based team in the Constructors’ race.

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