It’s nip and tuck in the battle for the championship between Mercedes and Ferrari, and every development matters. In a bid to get the upper hand – or at least not slip back - both manufacturers have unleashed their third upgraded engine of the season for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps…
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will run a new internal combustion engine (ICE), turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K, but will escape penalties as he remains within his allowed allocation for the season. But his Mercedes team mate, Valtteri Bottas has not been so lucky.
The Finn is having a complete new power unit, changing all six elements. That pushes him over his allocation on all six components, incurring penalties that will see him start at the back of the Belgian grid.
Mercedes customers Force India and Williams will also receive the extra boost, with Lance Stroll, Sergey Sirotkin and Esteban Ocon taking completely fresh power units. Sergio Perez, meanwhile, will change every element apart from the energy store. None of the quartet will take penalties.
Hamilton, who heads Vettel by 24 points in the drivers’ championship, was pleased to have the new engine given the nature of the circuit, where drivers spend around 70% of the lap on full throttle.
“These next two weekends are the two big power circuits, and you’ve seen how big an impact the power can make with Ferrari taking a big step around Austria, and that wasn’t even a new power unit,” said Hamilton.
“This weekend I think they have got a new power unit, we have got a new power unit, so it will be interesting to see how they fair against each other. Naturally, I’ve got a lot of confidence in ours.”
After rolling out their upgraded engine for customers Haas and Sauber in Hungary, Ferrari are slotting the new unit into their works cars for this weekend’s race. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have new ICEs, while Vettel also has a new turbo and MGU-H.
With Raikkonen on the cusp of penalties in terms of his turbo allocation, the Italian team have opted not to change that component for this weekend at this stage.