Ferrari makes strategic last-minute gearbox and exhaust changes on Leclerc’s car

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Ferrari has changed multiple engine and gearbox components in Charles Leclerc’s car which indicates that the Monegasque driver will serve grid-drop penalty right after the summer break. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports from the damp Hungaroring paddock.

While only Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen started the weekend with a fresh gearbox, there were further changes for Saturday. Ferrari installed a fresh unit into Charles Leclerc’s car with Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll and Williams racer Nicholas Latifi also opting for a fresh component as well.

For this season, FIA has changed the rules in regard to the way drivers can use gearboxes throughout the championship. The 2022 rules split the gearboxes into two parts: casing & cassette and the internal components.

The new rules enforce a four casing and cassette limit on the cars taking part in the championship and the same numerical limit will be imposed on the components within the gearbox cassette itself.

This means that every driver is only permitted four 'gearboxes' for the season, and can pick and choose from that pool of four to get through the season. Like the power unit rules, once a driver requires more than four casings or internal components, a five-place penalty will be imposed.

For Stroll and Latifi, it is only their third gearbox casing and internal components, meaning that they are still in plan to complete the season without exceeding their allocation.

However, Leclerc’s change means that he finds himself on the cusp of penalties after having started to use his last permitted gearbox. The Monegasque has also received a new exhaust system for Saturday which is his eighth and last unit for the season.

With Ferrari opting for last-minute and unexpected changes while Leclerc is believed to have relatively fresh units following multiple changes at the Canadian Grand Prix, it is believed that Ferrari is preparing a strategic move for the races after the summer break.

Given the reliability problems Ferrari has with its turbocharger and hybrid components and the fact that Leclerc uses his turbocharger that was installed into his SF-75 in Montreal for the fifth consecutive race, Ferrari is thought to put Leclerc on his last permitted exhaust and gearbox in a bid to make a complete change of power unit parts and gearbox to fill up the Monegasque’s pool of engine components for the final part of the campaign.

Furthermore, Mercedes driver George Russell will start today’s Hungarian Grand Prix with a fresh motor generator unit – kinetic that is his third and last one permitted for the 2022 championship.