Although TD39 has largely been blamed for Ferrari’s post-summer break drop off, it seems there’s more to the story with their upgraded power unit and lack of car development also playing a role.
In fact the power unit, it is being reported, has been their biggest weakness in the second half of this season.
Ferrari won four grands prix in the first part of this season, the Scuderia taking the fight to Red Bull early in the championship before falling off the pace.
While they have paid a price for strategy blunders and driver mistakes, that doesn’t account for their waning performances, the Scuderia off the pace ever since Formula 1 returned from the summer break at the Belgian Grand Prix.
It has been reported time and again that Ferrari were hurt by Technical Directive 39, which cancelled a grey area in the regulations that teams were exploiting to bend their floors a little more than the regulated 2mm.
Now, however, Italian journalist Leo Turrini is saying there’s more to it than that with Ferrari also introducing their upgraded power unit at the Spa race.
“Officially the famous Technical Directive 39 is considered ‘negligible’ because it affected everyone,” he says. “However – since the first hour – we have repeatedly signaled that the data was too clear to dismiss the issue.
“But that’s not the entire point and it’s good to be clear.
“It is no longer a mystery that the Maranello power unit has never run at the maximum power level. We are probably talking about 25/30 hp [horsepower], or 6/7 tenths [per lap].”
Speaking about the power unit’s “precarious reliability”, he says Ferrari have taken the hit in order to get it right in a “significant way for next year”.
That, if the numbers Turrini speculated are correct, is a huge loss of power for Ferrari who have not won a grand prix since Carlos Sainz’s P1 at the British Grand Prix.
Then comes the car development part.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto recently revealed to Auto Motor und Sport that the Scuderia stopped developing the F1-75 because they hit the budget cap ceiling.
“This is not a choice we made voluntarily,” the Italian said. “We simply ran out of money. We can’t afford the extra costs for the production of the parts.”
Fair enough, all the teams have had to balance developing their cars versus the cap.
But when it comes to Ferrari, Turrini says “3/4 tenths of development on the current single-seater has been sacrificed for the benefit of the new car.
“The 675 will have some major improvements and in many areas. The goal is to return to having much more load to widen the set-up options and obtain all the available power for which the power unit was designed.”
He added: “If these targets are met there is no reason not to think we won’t have a three-way fight after winter.”
Having led both championship after round five, the Miami Grand Prix, Ferrari are now in a fight to hold onto second place in the Constructors’ Championship with Mercedes just 19 points behind heading into the Abu Dhabi finale.