E s is the biggest puzzle that Formula 1 currently busy. Mercedes, Renault and Honda are racking their brains over one question: where does Ferrari get so much power in the short term? We're talking about up to 40 kilowatts, or almost 55 hp.
Ferrari owed two factors to its two victories in Spa and Monza: Charles Leclerc in the cockpit and a powerful engine in the rear. There was no way around the Ferrari on the straights. In Monza even less than in Spa. GPS measurements suggest that Ferrari has gone one step further with the new Spec3 engine.
Monza was a disillusionment for the Ferrari competition. Ferrari made up nine tenths on the Mercedes in training on the straights. Lewis Hamilton hung Charles Leclerc in the transmission for 42 laps. Without the red car in front of him, he would have driven two tenths faster per lap.
Hamilton had DRS, he had slipstream. And still he didn't come by. “Despite these advantages, we only made up two meters on Leclerc on the home straight,” the engineers calculated. Too little to tear down the red wall.
Only Ferrari stands out in terms of power
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto mentioned the powerful engine and the favorable air resistance in his race analysis. Opponents agree: it's mainly the engine. In terms of air resistance, the cars differ only marginally, especially in Monza, where all are equipped with the smallest possible wings.
But where does all the power come from? “Renault, Honda and we are roughly on the same level at the moment. Only Ferrari stands out, and partiallydramatic “, not only wonders Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
Mercedes has been working intensively on deciphering the Ferrari secret since the beginning of the season. Toto Wolff revealed in Monza that you think you know what Ferrari is doing. That of course remains as secret as the trick itself. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told us. “We sent a few suspicions to the FIA, but got no answer.”
You have to differentiate with Ferrari's engine performance. First there is that mysterious power boost that the pilots could only call up in very specific phases. So far, he has only been observed in the qualifying laps, the starting lap and directly after restarting.
From this it can be concluded that Ferrari needs a slow lap beforehand to get this extra performance. However, the mode cannot be activated for attack or defense at will. Otherwise Sebastian Vettel would have easily countered Hamilton's attack on the Kemmel straight in Spa.
Three theories to improve performance
In Monza you saw a new quality. Ferrari now obviously also has an attack mode that Leclerc used to defend his position. However, it is not of the same quality as the performance injection in Q3. But effective enough to stay in the lead.
Mercedes' plan was to rush Leclerc until the Monegasque ran out of battery power. But that didn't happen, even though the Monza winner consistently performed at full power on the home straight and before the second chicane. He was still able to recharge the battery sufficiently for the rest of the lap.
All of this can somehow be explained. For Ferrari's super mode, however, there are only guesses that circulate in the paddock. Theory one says that under certain conditions Ferrari is able to feed 160 instead of 120 kilowatts from the battery into the system. You need the slow lap in order to fully charge the battery beforehand.
Theory two assumes that in the slow lap before activating fuel betweenthe measuring point of the flow rate and the high pressure pump is created. This means that you could then inject more gasoline than allowed in the Q3 laps.
Theory three states that the air collector (plenum) in front of the engine is cooled with oil and the engineers divert some of this oil for combustion . It is not entirely clear why you should need a warm-up for this.
The theories may be true in essence, but certainly not in detail. Because the way they are rumored, they would be illegal. And any technology inspector would run into it immediately.
After the investigation last year into the two-part battery from Ferrari, a possible cover-up of the energy flows, and the bunkering of fuel in accumulators in front of the injection nozzles, there is now calm again at the front.
In winter there were various technical directives on the subject that should rule out possible trickery. Ferrari's power advantage remained. Conclusion of the opponents: “It has to be something really clever what you are doing. And if it is legal, you can only take off your hat. '
Ferrari customers look into the tube
By the way, Ferrari customers do not get the benefit of the mysterious horsepower boost. Alfa Romeo and Haas shouldn't get the Spec 3 engine either, if chance hadn't come between them. Actually, that's not in the sense of the regulations. But Ferrari has found a clever way to drive the final stage of development exclusively.
They have delivered a new Spec 2 engine to their customers in Spa. Thus the same drive version that Ferrari still had in the car at Spa. For the Ferrari satellites, the spa motor was the third drive unit. Theoretically, Alfa and Haas could order a Spec 3 engine for the rest of the season and Ferrari couldn't deny them either, but it would mean an engine penalty and an extra fee. Customers prefer to refuse voluntarily.
But now it has happened. Kimi Raikkonen needed a new engine after a training crash. And he had tobe a Spec 3 variant according to the rules, as this specification was already in circulation in the factory cars.