Ferrari revealed during the summer break that it is working to bring a “significant” step forward in its powertrain performance in the second half of the season.
The team said on Wednesday it will launch its updated hybrid system at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, equipping Leclerc’s car with a new powertrain.
Leclerc will take a new set of PSU components to Sochi amid fears over his battery after the first-lap crash in Hungary, resigning him to a start behind the grid.
Ferrari will not provide Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz with the updated parts this weekend as they want to prevent both cars from leaving behind the grid in the same race.
The new hybrid system is supposed to provide Ferrari with a small power boost, estimated at less than 10bhp.
Leclerc said at Thursday’s FIA press conference that the new hybrid elements were “on paper a little better”, but that he did not expect a big step forward.
“Obviously every time we have something a little better, we try to put it on the right track,” said Leclerc.
“We expect it to be a bit better. We’re not expecting big, big changes, but something going in the right direction. “
Speaking in the media pen at the Sochi Autodrom, Leclerc spoke about the importance that even small performance steps could have in the midst of Ferrari’s close fight with McLaren for third place in the Constructors’ Championship.
McLaren are currently 13.5 points ahead of Ferrari in the standings after taking the lead with their double at Monza two weeks ago.
“We still think it will be a step forward, but how much, we will have to see,” said Leclerc.
“But I think in a season like this, whatever we can have we try to take because with McLaren the margins are very, very small.
“Anything we can bring to the car to try and beat them in this championship fight, we’ll try.”
As Leclerc faces the challenge of fighting in the peloton thanks to his grid penalty, the Ferrari driver was hopeful that the forecast rain could help his cause and mix things up in the race.
“I think a weekend like this is actually not too bad to change the powertrain,” Leclerc said.
“It was not calculated. If it’s like that [raining], it’s a bit of luck, but it’s going in our direction.
Leclerc also felt that Sochi was a good track to make the switch, given the long straights that provide overtaking opportunities, especially in Turn 2.
“I think we all agreed to change it as soon as possible,” Leclerc said. “I’m not the one saying it. But I was totally okay with it.
“It’s pretty obvious in these situations. Obviously if it was Monaco maybe you don’t change it in Monaco but being here in Sochi made sense.