Motorsport.com’s Italian branch has suggested that the Scuderia could use the opportunity to trial new parts at Interlagos, with Leclerc potentially needing a change of engine.
The Monegasque ran into trouble during FP3 at the United States GP, with an oil leak forcing a change to the second-spec PU, which left Leclerc down on power in qualifying and the race.
“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.”
If Leclerc’s COTA engine cannot be used again, and Ferrari deem the worn unit to be too risky, a fresh PU will cost him a 10-place grid penalty, as it would be his fourth of 2019 – potentially opening the door for Ferrari to bring forward next year’s components.
Leclerc came home fourth in the US GP from the same grid slot, albeit almost a minute down on race-winner Valtteri Bottas.
The red cars sudden struggle for pace, having been much improved since the summer break, raised eyebrows and the intrigue was lifted further when Max Verstappen said of their struggle: “That’s what happens when you stop cheating.”
A technical directive was issued before the COTA race 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.
Mattia Binotto dismissed any link between the two.