Ferrari debuted an upgraded hybrid system for its power unit on Charles Leclerc’s car at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi last weekend.
The updated power unit was understood to be worth less than 10bhp, but Ferrari made clear prior to its introduction that its greater purpose was to help lay the foundations for 2022 and beyond.
Leclerc enjoyed a spirited fightback through the field in Sochi, recovering from his engine grid penalty to run as high as third and poised for points before staying out too long on slicks when the rain hit, causing him to drop back to 15th.
Speaking after the race, Ferrari team principal Binotto said he did not want to put a number on how much time had been gained with the upgraded power unit, re-emphasising that it was chiefly about planning for the future.
“No, I don’t want to quantify it,” Binotto said when asked about the time gained.
“I think that is a fact of our confidentiality.
“It is a step in terms of performance, but as Charles and Laurent [Mekies] said already, more importantly for us, certainly it has pushed forward as much as we could with that new technology.
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari Mario Isola, Racing Manager, Pirelli Motorsport
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
“It will certainly helped in the view of 2022 in terms of the experience we can do.
“But I’m happy now that Charles has got it and got it for the rest of the season, which still is a step.”
Ferrari is planning to introduce the upgraded power unit to Carlos Sainz Jr’s car at one of the remaining races this year, but he would also have to serve a back-of-grid penalty to make the switch.
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies had said on Saturday after qualifying that the team was “satisfied” with the findings from the new power unit, but said that it was “no game changer”.
The upgraded power unit nevertheless comes as a boost to Ferrari in its fight with McLaren for third place in the constructors’ championship, with just 17.5 points separating the teams with seven races remaining this year.