Ferrari will start the penultimate race in the Formula 1 schedule on their heels as a late Charles Leclerc Brazilian Grand Prix Penalty has been announced due to a Power Unit swap stemming from US Grand Prix issues.
Ferrari’s Austin nightmare persists as a Leclerc Brazilian Grand Prix Penalty has been accepted by Scuderia forcing Charles battle through the field and make up an additional 10 grid places to overcome his penalty passed down by the FIA. Due to an oil leak in the United States Grand Prix FP session, he was forced to run his SF90 on an old spec Power Unit. Ferrari opted not to swap the part out for the COTA race last round for any number of reasons but one would speculate the following are most likely:
- Ferrari only have one more fresh power unit to give Leclerc. With two races left had he incurred a wreck or technical issue that were power related, he’d be left with solely the old spec units with high mileage.
- He had to have his part fitted by the time Qualifying began. This is less likely, but Ferrari may not have wanted to lift the car and remove all the parts for an engine replacement and risk the time it took. Nor did they want to enter a very critical Qualifying session on a brand new unit without any testing whatsoever done with Leclerc driving.
Being that the Brazilian Grand Prix is a crucial strong hold that Ferrari need in order to keep Max Verstappen at bay, it makes sense why Binotto had this to say about Ferrari’s strategy to opt for the grid penalty for Leclerc:
Mattia Binotto On Leclerc’s Decision To Take A Grid Penalty
Charles will get a new power unit, as his was damaged on Saturday in Austin, which meant he had to use a previously used and less powerful version for the rest of the weekend.
Fitting a new PU 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.
It’s interesting to hear Mattia make unsolicited connections to the 2020 F1 season. It makes you wonder if the claims of Ferrari being exposed at the US grand prix by their lack of pace lining up perfectly with the FIA warning Ferrari has gotten to them. In particular Verstappen’s comments on the matter added fuel to the fire. He had this to say while being interviewed by Ziggo Sport after Ferrari suffered pace drop offs, in particular the straight line pace they’ve come to lean on, post the US Grand Prix.
“That’s what happens when you stop cheating, of course.”
So with everything swirling, it’s easy to see how Ferrari may be more inclined to accept a Leclerc Brazilian Grand Prix Penalty and focus on proving the critics wrong. It’s possible this could have the grid speculating more if Ferrari return to their pre-US Grand Prix form. Mattia reported they suffered aerodynamic hits to prepare for the COTA circuit in Texas which would account for their top-end up drop off. But only seeing their pace will show the full story.
Although Charles Leclerc sits in 3rd place in the Drivers Championship currently, he’s far from comfortable. This grid penalty may be the only option for Ferrari as Verstappen has been hunting Leclerc down ever since their tangle in Japan while Vettel managed to cut the gap further last time out in Austin. Be sure to check for any related F1 News as the weekend progresses to stay informed on this very important Formula 1 Grand Prix.
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