After the engine problems with Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari in Austin at the US Grand Prix F1 event, the team decided to use a new engine on the penultimate race weekend of the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Ferrari confirmed this on Tuesday. Leclerc will therefore receive a grid penalty at the Brazilian Grand Prix, it is expected to be a significant drop in grid position.
TJ13 published an article today (copy is below) on this move, and how it is in actual fact a test session for the 2020 engine.
Recap: In the third free practice at the previous Grand Prix in the USA, Leclerc had suffered an oil leak and was therefore forced to use an older specification of the engine for the rest of the weekend. He finished fourth place in the race.
Theoretically Ferrari had the opportunity to repair the damaged engine, but announced in advance of the Brazil Grand Prix that the damaged engine would be replaced by a new one. This is telling as it would be relatively simple to repair the original 3rd evolution power unit from Austin, rather than build a new one entirely. More evidence that what we shall see is a 2020 Ferrari Power Unit in Leclerc’s car.
If only the combustion engine were to be replaced, this would result in a minimum penalty of ten starting positions, and if Ferrari additionally installs a new MGU-H or a new turbo, then at least ten further penalty places, effectively sending Leclerc to the back of the grid.
“Charles will get a new engine because his was damaged in Austin on Saturday, which meant he had to use a previously used and less powerful version for the rest of the weekend,” explained Mattia Binotto.
“The addition of a new engine means we’ll get a grid penalty in Sao Paulo, but we should be able to return to our normal performance level and show some fighting spirit to finish the season at a high level and confirm that we’re making progress with our car”.
Rumour: experimental 2020 engine for Charles Leclerc in Brazil?
It is said that due to the Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s lack of available engines for the remainder of the season, the Scuderia are seriously considering fitting the young F1 driver with an experimental Power Unit based on the 2020 architecture.
With the 2019 season done and dusted with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton wrapping up the Championships, for Ferrari there’s very little to lose by trying out the newer engine from Ferrari earmarked for next season.
With only the fight for 3rd place in the drivers Championship to play for, it is said that Ferrari Boss Mattia Binotto is seriously considering this move in order to get some much needed data with the severely restricted winter testing regime in place.
Last Grand Prix in Austin, Texas – Charles Leclerc suffered an oil leak preventing any real participation in third practice. Further, the Monegasque driver then had to make do with older 2nd evolution power unit for both qualifying and the race itself, meaning the mileage is too high now to be relied on for Brazil.
The only engine that’s available for Leclerc is the repaired one from Austin, but its’ unclear if it suffered heat damage from the oil leak, therefore not reliable for use during the Brazillian weekend.
So naturally if another new 3rd evolution power unit must be taken, thus incurring grid penalties, the opportunity is right for testing out 2020 components, and perhaps even the entire power unit.
According to Franco Nugnes from the Italian motorsport.com this is currently being discussed intensively between engine boss Wolf Zimmermann and team boss Mattia Binotto.
Interlagos requires a high proportion of full throttle, and the altitude is around 800 metres which will put a high load on the engine, not as extreme as in Mexico City, but nevertheless, a good testing situation.
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Prior to the season, Renault F1 team had set the goal for the 2019 season at fourth place in the World Championship, a target almost certainly unachieved for this Formula 1 season.
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