Ferrari are keeping to themselves how big a performance boost the new engine Charles Leclerc used at the Russian Grand Prix has given them.
Leclerc’s car was fitted with an updated power unit at Sochi but as it was also his fourth new one of the season, it meant he had to start the race from the back row of the grid.
Along with Max Verstappen, who was penalised for the same reason, the Monegasque driver made strong progress through the field and was running as high as third position at one stage.
However, there was an unpleasant twist for Leclerc in the closing stages when the rain began to fall as he was among those inconvenienced the most, staying out too long on slick tyres and finding himself sliding off the slippery circuit to a standstill. He was eventually classified 15th.
While the new engine had previously been reported to be worth a significant 10-15hp extra, Mattia Binotto, the Ferrari team principal, was reticent about just how much of an advantage it had provided for Leclerc.
Carlos Sainz is also expected to receive it at some point during the remainder of the season, but will also have to serve a grid penalty when doing so.
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“I don’t want to quantify it,” said Binotto, quoted by Motorsport.com. “I think that is a fact of our confidentiality.
“It is a step in terms of performance, but as Charles and Laurent [Mekies, sporting director] have said, more importantly for us, certainly it has pushed forward as much as we could with the new technology.
“It will certainly help in the view of 2022 in terms of the experience we can do.
“But I’m happy now that Charles has got it and will have it for the rest of the season, which still is a step.”
Ferrari remain embroiled in a scrap with McLaren for third place in the Constructors’ Championship and although they had the disappointment of Leclerc’s poor end to the race in Russia, they also dodged a very damaging bullet at the same time.
That was because Lando Norris, who had every chance of victory before the rain came, made the wrong judgement in terms of strategy and tumbled from first place down to seventh.
With Carlos Sainz finishing third and Daniel Ricciardo fourth, it meant McLaren are 17.5 points ahead of Ferrari with seven races of the campaign remaining.
Another Ferrari podium at Sochi
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