Formula One team Ferrari have confirmed that Charles LeClerc’s blown engine in Baku is a write off. However, on Friday the team only declared to the FIA that they would be introducing a third engine which is without penalty in the sporting regulations.
This means they must be able to salvage a turbo unit from the first three engines as LeClerc has used three already and a fourth would see a grid drop for the Ferrari driver.
However, Ted Kravitz revealed during practice three,. hispid lane colleagues believed the team would tactically introduce a fourth engine to take the upcoming inevitable penalty in Canada rather than Austria or Silverstone where overtaking is more difficult.
Following Mercedes introducing engines 4 and 5 in Hungary 2019 which saw the same penalty awarded as if they had introduced just one, the FIA changed the regulations to prevent teams ‘loading up’ the pool of components available but suffering just one penalty.
So team’s can no longer introduce engines/restricted components 4 and 5 and be penalised just once.
However, because LeClerc’s third engine is not subject to a penalty, the team can introduce engine four this weekend too, so LeClerc will suffer a ten place drop.
By introducing the fourth power unit complete, this provides LeClerc with all the additional restricted components at the same time.
However, given Ferrari have revealed only that LeClerc’s engine 2 is a write off, its is unclear whether they understand yet what caused the engine failure in Baku.
The team announced a new control electronics component would be late on Friday. That is the fourth for LeClerc and will see him suffer a 10 place grid penalty. The introduction of the fourth power unit today, will then result in a ‘back of the grid’ start for the Ferrari driver.
Introducing the fourth engine in Canada where the penalty is less severe as cars can overtake appears smart, but if the fourth engine is fundamentally flawed aswell, Ferrari are taking a gamble.
As Christian Horner revealed during FP3 each engine costs about $1.5m so if Ferrari don’t get the expected mileage out of LeClerc’s eying 4, this is development spend that will be lost from the cost capped budget for 2022.