Charles Leclerc gave a positive initial assessment of the new, upgraded Ferrari engine that the team presented for the Russian Grand Prix, and the sports director of the Italian team also expressed his opinion. The Monegian first tried the upgraded drive unit during the first day in Sochi, where he will receive a penalty for Sunday's race, as he has exceeded the allowed number of engines this season.
Ferrari was ready for Leclerc to receive a penalty for the engine after one of its power units was damaged in the first lap at the Hungarian Grand Prix, when Valtteri Bottas caused a major incident. With that in mind, Ferrari took the opportunity to install a brand new drive unit that is being developed specifically for the 2022 season.
"It was very good, it was a positive day," Leclerc said. “Obviously whenever you make a big change for everyone, for the mechanics, for us; it's a new part, so it's good to see that everything worked as expected.
" "For now, we mainly focused on the race because after the qualifiers we would be the last to start anyway, so today we did a good job taking as much data as possible and (I'm satisfied) with our Friday."
Asked if he could feel the difference of his new engine with the new specifications, Leclerc replied: “I feel better, which is great. Obviously the data confirms that. It's great to feel and see. " It is understood that Ferrari initially drives the engine in conservative mode to provide vital early feedback and compare its real-world findings with simulations on a dyn.
Speaking after the first day of the weekend in Russia, Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies explained that the Italian team is ready for penalties this year to increase the odds for next season. "It is fair to say that the main goal of this drive unit is, above all, to work next year," Mekies said.
"It was a lot of pressure from the company to try to bring this new hybrid system right now. This is (done) to make sure that we can confirm that all the processes, all the directions of development that we have for the drive unit next year are confirmed by the feedback from the racetracks.
" “It’s one thing to have a simulation, and it’s one thing to have a dyno test, it’s much better if we can have confirmation on the track. Let's hope that this will be a step in the right direction, "added the sports director of the Italian team.
Leclerc, meanwhile, explains that he expects a difficult task in the race, especially when it comes to overtaking because he tried it during the 2nd free practice. "It's very difficult to overtake. I tried during the second free practice and it was very hard. I will see, I will do my best, but I expect a difficult race on Sunday, "explains the Ferrari driver.