Ferrari have moved closer to Mercedes in terms of engine power, but are reportedly now the leader on the charging side.
The current Formula 1 power units may be the most efficient hybrid engines in the world, but their complexity and cost means that changes are needed for the new generation of power units which are set to arrive in 2025.
And of course if an engine manufacturer falls behind, then their complex nature means that it is far from easy to repair the damage.
Ferrari know that all too well after falling into the lower reaches of the midfield in 2020, hampered by an underpowered engine which also made life difficult for customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas.
However, Auto Motor und Sport report that Ferrari have now narrowed the deficit to Mercedes, while moving onto level terms with Renault for power output.
What is really helping the Scuderia though is their work on the electrical side, with the Ferrari power unit said to be the best for recovering energy, meaning better efficiency and more horsepower.
‘The important decisions were all made back in the summer of 2020, with Ferrari building a completely new power unit,’ the report states.
‘While it was still clearly behind Mercedes, Honda and Renault last year, it has now drawn level with Renault, kept the distance to Honda and reduced the gap to Mercedes.
‘Experts estimate Ferrari’s deficit in the combustion engine at 15 to 20 hp. On the other hand, Ferrari is already ahead in terms of electric drive. Charging is activated later on the straights than on the competition.’
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Ferrari had spent the early stages of the 2021 campaign battling with McLaren at the front of the midfield, but still adrift of Mercedes and Red Bull ahead.
Monaco though saw the Scuderia shoot into contention for victory. Charles Leclerc would take pole at his home race, and while he was unable to make the start due to a driveshaft failure, Carlos Sainz scored an impressive P2 finish for the team.
But Mercedes had apparently already identified that Ferrari would be strong in Monaco, due to their fondness of the slow corners.
‘In Monte Carlo, Ferrari even had a car capable of winning. But that was down to the race track,’ the report adds.
‘Mercedes engineers recognised from the GPS measurements in the first four races that Ferrari had the fastest car on average in the corners, especially in the slow ones. The 20 hp deficit to Mercedes and Honda didn’t hurt with only 56 percent full load in Monte Carlo.’
Ferrari, though, appear to have been studying Mercedes very closely too, taking lessons from the extreme focus on every detail which has taken the German outfit to seven Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in a row.
‘The distribution of responsibility is across many shoulders with the setting of priorities and relentless analysis of mistakes,’ Auto Motor und Sport state.
‘They are back to the mentality that every detail is important. Problems are addressed and not hushed up. You could say it’s a copy of the Mercedes success system.’