Ferrari to debut updated F1 hybrid system at Russian GP

Ferrari revealed over the summer break that it was planning to bring a “significant step” in the performance of its power unit by bringing evolutions for its power unit through the season half of the season.

Under the regulations, teams are permitted to make one specification update per year on each of its power unit components.

Ferrari F1 chief Mattia Binotto previously said that the team would not debut the updated power unit until after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, which took place earlier this month.

In the team’s preview of the Russian Grand Prix this weekend, Ferrari revealed that Leclerc would be taking the updated power unit at the Sochi Autodrom to mark its on-track debut.

It is understood that the power gain offered by the updated hybrid system will be less than 10bhp, but will nevertheless offer a small boost in the fight with McLaren for third in the constructors’ championship.

It means Leclerc will have to start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid as a result of taking a new power unit, having lost one of his earlier engines in the first-lap crash with Lance Stroll in Hungary.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr will have to wait to get the updated hybrid system as part of a staggered approach between the drivers.

Ferrari always planned to avoid having both of its drivers start the same race from the back, with Leclerc getting priority due to concerns over his energy store that was damaged in the same Hungary crash.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21 retires from the race

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21 retires from the race

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“Its main purpose is to gain experience for the 2022 car project,” the team said in its preview.

“A great deal of effort has gone into this, both technically and logistically, and so as to be able to use it as soon as possible, its introduction will be staggered between the drivers.

“Charles will be the first to have the new hybrid system. This decision is a precautionary measure relating to the potential risk of using the battery pack damaged in his Hungarian GP accident.

“In Sochi, Leclerc will have a brand new power unit and will therefore start from the back of the grid.

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“As to when the updated hybrid system is fitted to Carlos’ car, that will be decided following an evaluation of the right compromise between competitiveness and the impact of the penalty.”

Leclerc is not the only driver heading to Sochi with a grid penalty pending. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will serve a three-place grid drop after being deemed predominantly to blame for the accident with F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton at Monza two weeks ago.

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