According to reports, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc could get a head-start in testing out the 2020 power unit. As it turns out, Motorsport.com Italy suggested that the Maranello outfit is using the opportunity to trial new parts at Interlagos.
Of course, with the 2019 constructors championship already over, Ferrari are free to experiment. However, this also means that Leclerc could potentially need a change of engine and a subsequent engine penalty.
Last time out, the Monegasque driver encountered issues at the US Grand Prix 2019, courtesy an oil leak. He escaped a penalty after changing to an older spec power unit, which left him down on power in qualifying and the race.
“It [the damaged component] will be shipped back to Maranello, we had an extended oil leakage, not clear where it was coming from,” Binotto said, when referring to the older spec PU. “We need to analyse it and understand where it’s coming from and eventually decide whether it is still to be used or not.”
Now, a fresh PU will cost him a 10-place grid penalty, as it would be his fourth of 2019. Naturally, it slammed open the door for Ferrari to give next year’s components and acquire some valuable data.
With the down-graded engine, Charles Leclerc still managed to finish fourth as Ferrari’s sole-surviving car. Sadly, he was almost a minute down on race-winner Valtteri Bottas.
However, Scuderia Ferrari will not particularly care about the championship at this point. For Leclerc though, he will be thrilled to get more power in his scarlet machine, compared to the nightmare in Austin. As mentioned before, the championship is already over, so in reality, the team and the driver have nothing to lose.
On the other end of the scale though, it does beg an important question directed at Ferrari. Will Sebastian Vettel get a chance to test out the 2020 parts in Abu Dhabi later this month?