A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
The background and pitfalls of Ferrari’s power unit improvement
The way things look so far, Ferrari has done a massive job over the winter. While the law of diminishing returns made it inevitable that Mercedes would not come up with a miracle, the German/British joint venture still managed to improve their power unit. Looking at the asthmatic dyson that posed as Ferrari’s offering last year a minor miracle was almost inevitable, and it materialized.
According to Marcus Ericson, who drove the 2014 Sauber in the Abu Dhabi test, and can easily compare the old PU to the new one, he reckons that Ferrari made massive gains in terms of power, driveability and fuel consumption. Especially the latter, which was an achilles heel of last year’s machinery. And the most remarkable thing is that Ferrari seem to have preserved their superior reliability. While Merc, Honda and especially Renault have all suffered at least two terminal engine failures so far, Ferrari has had exactly none.
But one should not be fooled by that. The Italians face the same problem as everyone else. All manufacturers have raised the revs considerably and as a result this year’s power units are operating smack bang in the coffin corner of the laws of physics. And not even the new-found enthusiasm within the Gestione sportiva can override e=mc2. Ferrari has already announced that over the course of the weekend both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen will be equipped with a new power unit as micro fractures have been found in the engine block of numero uno in both cars.
As a result of this push to the ragged edge of the laws of physics FIA is reported to be inundated with requests from all manufacturers for updates on grounds of reliability, almost universally relating to crank shafts, turbos, and pistons.
Why the technical directive on fuel flow made no difference
Auto Motor und Sport reported today that there is a reason that the pecking order was completely unchanged by the new technical directive on fuel flow that introduced new sensors to prevent the fuel flow being tampered with behind the sole sensor in last year’s units. The answer is laughingly simple – nobody used such a system.
According to AMuS’s Tobias Grüner, Ferrari tested such a system in winter testing, but didn’t use it in a race. Using a reservoir to store superflous fuel in off-throttle phases, the overflow was injected during acceleration phases to allow a temporary higher fuel flow than allowed, and the sensor was left none the wiser.
However, keeping a technology a secret in F1 is an exercise in futility and (most likely after Ferrari’s strong pace in Jerez) the other teams jumped on it like a pack of dogs on a three legged cat. Soon the powers that be were facing several inquiries as to the validity of such a solution and Ferrari soon realized it would inevitably be nixed and gave up on the concept.
In hindsight Ferrari’s announcement that they would use a ‘more conservative’ evolution of their 2015 power plant in Melbourne seems to have been a coded message to the other manufacturers that they would not use the controversial solution in the race.
Vettel mocks handbaggery at Mercedes
During the post-race presser in China Sebastian Vettel was an amused 3rd party witness to the cat fight between Mercedes’ two divas in the other seats. “It must have been love between the two of them last Sunday,” the German explained on Thursday, clearly amused. “I was in a comfortable situation as I wasn’t involved.”
The four-times world champion, who is currently enjoying a return to form makes it clear that his team is not banking on a re-enactment of Spa 2014. “For us it is irrelevant [if they crash into each other]. We concentrate solely on our own business and if they have a problem and pile into each other, everyone profits not only we. We wouldn’t complain, but we’re not banking on it. The rest is not in our hands.”
Daniel Ricciardo admits that Webber-esque start was his fault
Daniel Ricciardo’s start in China would have made Mark Webber blush. The Australian found himself in position seventeen after a launch that was best measured in geological units. In today’s press conference the perpetually grinning breakthrough star of last season acknowledged that after trawling through the telemetry data, he had to concede that his team’s analysis was correct.
The Austrian team had blamed the bad start on him almost immediately after the race, reporting that the honey badger had simply pressed the wrong button of the three-hundred eleventy on his steering wheel, causing his RB11 to activate the anti-stall modus. This unorthodox procedure is generally not considered the most efficient method of setting the car in motion.
Despite this unflattering discovery, however, F1’s version of the Cheshire Cat insists that the RB11’s power plant does not lend itself to great starts in any case as the driveability (or lack thereof) from the ill-fated Renault design makes a smooth launch almost impossible.
Now that even the normally upbeat Ricciardo is offering some kind of tentative criticism of the PU, I would be alarmed if I was a Renault executive. Alternatively the diplomatic skills of Marko and Horner, which make the Hippo look like Perez de Cuellar, might just be rubbing off on him, as they did on Vettel back in the day.