Lewis Hamilton and co may get huge advantage with Charles Leclerc set for ‘grid penalty’

F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen could be handed a massive boost ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix with Charles Leclerc possibly set for a grid penalty. Leclerc could be fitted with a fresh engine at Spa alongside new MGU-K and battery components, according to Formula1.uno.

Sources suggest the new parts could debut on Friday before more updates are introduced on Saturday. Leclerc last fitted a new power unit in Canada while team-mate Carlos Sainz enjoyed a new engine in France.

An FIA ruling means designs for upgraded components need to be submitted and registered by 1 September. However, teams do not need to update their designs for up to five races after the deadline.

Both Ferrari drivers have used up their allocation of components for the year due to their host of mechanical failures. It means any new upgraded parts will result in grid penalties which will likely see Leclerc put to the back of the grid.

Luigi Fraboni, Head of Power Unit Operations and Electronics at Ferrari has warned Spa often raises reliability concerns.

He said: “Spa-Francorchamps is very tough on the power unit in terms of reliability. It’s the longest track on the calendar and usually, the distances covered over the course of the weekend are among the highest.

“There are very long straights that stress all the components and therefore require a specific assessment on the test bench. In terms of performance, along with Monza, this is the track where engine power has the greatest effect on lap time and energy management also has a major impact on the final result, especially in qualifying.”

Decisions on whether to take a grid penalty are usually based on overtaking opportunities and the circumstances around the weekend.

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They are unlikely to take the penalties at their upcoming home race at the Italian Grand Prix. Meanwhile, the layouts of races at Zandvoort and Singapore will be difficult to overtake making Spa a better option for the Scuderia.

Team principal Mattia Binotto has been unable to rule out further mechanical failures for Ferrari over the remainder of the season. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, he explained: “We are working on reliability and at the same time managing it, because it will be resolved definitively for next season.

“Some changes cannot be implemented in a few weeks. However, this does not mean that it will not be managed this season.”

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