A new ‘cheating’ controversy could be about to erupt in F1 – this time over ERS.
The sport’s four engine manufacturers have been ordered by the FIA to provide information about their energy recovery systems this week, according to Auto Motor und Sport.
The report claims that Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault must supply drawings and three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) views of all auxiliary circuits that do not belong to the high-voltage circuit.
It adds that “the association has a suspicion that one or more of them are not following the rules when it comes to energy management” and that “the FIA Delegate’s requests are too specific for a routine investigation”.
The report continues: “Then the warning: Any measure or system invented to intentionally alter the electrical measurements is considered a serious breach of the regulations.
“It appears similar to how Ferrari is said to have tricked the measurement of fuel flow last year. The sensor signal was said to have been manipulated in such a way that more fuel could be injected than was reported to the FIA measuring device.”
In summary, the report suggests the suspicion is that the rules are being bent by “more power being fed into the system via the MGU-K than the permitted 163hp”.
Besides the information which it says must be provided this week, the report claims that “if in doubt, physical checks will be carried out on the car”.
Concluding, the report states: “The sudden distrust raises many questions. Either the FIA is actually groping in the dark, or one or more engine manufacturers are exploiting grey areas.
“This suggests that so far, none of the four engine manufacturers has complained that the rules should be changed in the middle of the season. Normally that would have caused an outcry.
“However, it is also possible that the FIA is using the investigation of the ERS systems to justify its planned changes to engine modes.”
The last sentence refers to the potential ban of ‘party mode’ engine settings in qualifying, which are believed to boost teams such as Mercedes in the quest for pole position.
The engine manufacturers have spent years developing these short-term performance aids, although the added strain on the engine and increased fuel use that comes with them means they are not of much use in the race.
A report last week indicated the FIA have informed teams they will look to clamp down on such quali modes with new rules for 2021.