Charles Leclerc will avoid any penalty despite changing engine ahead of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix on Saturday after being sidelined by an issue in final practice at the Circuit of The Americas.

Ferrari driver Leclerc was forced to slow and park up at the side of the track in the final sector early in FP3, reporting a possible engine issue. Smoke was seen coming from the rear of his car, which was recovered and returned to Ferrari's garage before the session was over.

As well as losing precious track time ahead of qualifying at COTA, Leclerc was also left sweating on a possible penalty if Ferrari opted to fit a brand new engine in his car.

The team took its time to identify the issue, eventually confirming that it had been an oil leak, and that it would be changing the engine ahead of qualifying.

But by fitting one of the engines that is already in Leclerc's pool of three for the season, the Monegasque driver will avoid any grid penalty heading into the race on Sunday.

Ferrari mechanics are completing work on Leclerc's car during the break between FP3 and qualifying, the latter starting at 3pm local time in Austin (8pm GMT).

Leclerc will be looking to add to his tally of seven pole positions for the season and continue Ferrari's streak, which currently stands at six races and stretches back to the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August.

Leclerc said on Friday after FP2 that he believed Ferrari was in contention for pole, but cast doubt on how it would compare to Mercedes over the race runs on Sunday.

 

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