With Max Verstappen having claimed the 2022 Drivers’ Championship at the recent Japanese Grand Prix, Ferrari have switched their attention to taking the fight to Red Bull next season.
According to Motorsport Italy, Charles Leclerc will take a five-place grid penalty at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, with the Italians set to change his power unit.
Power unit reliability has been a huge issue for Ferrari this year, with Leclerc having suffered a failure whilst leading at the Spanish and Azerbaijan Grand Prix, whilst Carlos Sainz suffered a failure in Austria whilst in third.
If the reports are true, then Ferrari are set to upgrade the reliability of the power unit, something which will see Leclerc have its full potential for the first time this season.
With consent having been granted by the FIA, Motorsport Italy understands that the upgraded power unit will have 2023 in mind, with certain materials set to be installed that’ll be used next season.
More aggressive mappings are supposedly on the cards for Ferrari this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, where Leclerc will reportedly have a new ERS system at his disposal.
However, F1 journalist Giuliano Duchessa has heard that Ferrari won’t be upgrading the power unit’s reliability, meaning there is somewhat of an unknown surrounding the Maranello-based team’s potential this weekend.
Whether they upgrade it or not, something has to be done by the Italians to improve their power unit reliability, with it having cost the team in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships.
COTA is a potentially good venue, though, to take a penalty, with there being three to four strong overtaking places.
If the new power unit does give Leclerc better performance, then there is no reason why the Monegasque can’t still be in contention for a podium this weekend, a venue he has never claimed a podium at.
Leclerc has finished fourth at the American circuit twice, in 2021 and 2019; however, he actually retired from his first ever race at the circuit in 2018 whilst competing for Alfa Romeo.
With just four races remaining, the 24-year-old needs a strong end to the season to ensure that Red Bull don’t claim a one-two finish in the standings.
Following his last lap mistake at Suzuka, Leclerc has slipped to third in the standings and currently sits just a single point behind Sergio Pérez.
On paper, if Leclerc is taking a grid penalty then he may fall further behind Pérez on Sunday, putting extra pressure on the Monegasque to make the most of every session remaining this year.