Leclerc ran into engine trouble during FP3 at the United States GP and had to switch to a previous specification of power unit, leaving him down on power in qualifying and the race, where he was a distant fourth in both.
Ferrari identified an oil leak as the cause for Leclerc’s lack of power, but further diagnosis is required to determine whether a new engine will have to be fitted at Interlagos, which would incur a grid drop.
“It [the damaged component] will be shipped back to Maranello, we had an extended oil leakage, not clear where it was coming from,” Binotto said. “We need to analyse it and understand where it’s coming from and eventually decide whether it is still to be used or not.”
Ferrari’s lack of pace raised eyebrows in the paddock, coming in the week that a technical directive was issued to rule a fuel-flow system proposed by Red Bull illegal. This was seen by many as an attempt by Red Bull to get to the bottom of Ferrari’s speed advantage over their rivals.
Binotto confirmed that reverting to the old spec engine did cause Leclerc to lose performance at COTA.
“It was not down by quite a lot, it was slightly down,” he said.
“It is what we are expecting between an upgrade of engines, it was power unit two and not the third [specification] we introduced in Monza.”