Red Bull wary Ferrari reliability fixes will allow them to ‘turn up their power’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc racing against Red Bull driver Max Verstappen for the lead. Bahrain March 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc racing against the Red Bull of Max Verstappen for the lead. Bahrain March 2022

Although Christian Horner says “theoretically” none of F1’s engine manufacturers should have found big gains over the winter, he concedes Ferrari may have done so through reliability fixes.

Last season Ferrari’s power unit was just one of the team’s problems in a season blighted by issues, the Scuderia forced to turn down the power in a bid to maximise reliability.

The team worked on improving the power unit’s durability over the winter, all the engine manufacturers permitted to make alterations to the power units in the name of reliability, but only reliability as Formula 1 has entered its second of four years in which engine development is frozen.

That means none of the teams are permitted to make changes to find added performance, they can only fix existing issues.

And that’s what Ferrari are said to have done over the winter, reports claiming through that they’ve found an “extra 30 horsepower” in doing so.

Horner wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.

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“The engines are homologated so theoretically there shouldn’t be big horsepower gains,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

“And also the fuel is homologated. So any reports of new fuels shouldn’t be be permitted.

“But of course Ferrari had some reliability issues last year, so if they’ve managed to address that, and through that been able to turn up their power, inevitably they will see some form of progress now.”

According to reports Ferrari have found as much as 30bhp, which Horner acknowledges is “a lot. That’s a lot. So we have to be mindful of that.

“We saw them turn down the power after their failures last year so we know they have the ability within their engine to turn it up more.”

Asked if Red Bull had also made gains, the team boss replied: “We had some small reliability issues, but nothing to the magnitude of Ferrari.”

Alpine call on the FIA to be ‘stronger’ changes billed as reliability fixes

Gazzetta dello Sport has reported that three of F1’s four manufacturers, Alpine excluded, made horsepower gains over the winter.

The Italian publication claims Ferrari found an ’30hp increase’ through effecting reliability fixes, adding that Mercedes’ engine is up ’16bhp’ and the Red Bull-Honda one, ’10bhp’.

It has Alpine questioning the process with Bruno Famin, the head of the team’s engine base in Viry-Chatillon in France, telling The Race: “What is a pure, genuine reliability issue?

“Behind the reliability issue you often have a potential performance gain, of course. The limit is not exactly always super clear.”

He has called on the FIA to keep a sharp eye on what the manufacturers are doing.

“I am expecting the FIA to be a bit stronger,” he said. ” It has been quite tolerant in ‘22 and I think it was quite normal because everybody was affected by a reliability issue. We had 30, 40, 50, 70 requests from the different manufacturers. Then everybody was affected by this kind of problem.

“I am expecting the FIA to be a bit stronger in the future, but I have no new information.”