Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Tourdog
There has been much talk this season about Ferrari’s resurgence, closing a big chunk of the gap to Mercedes. There is no denying their lap times have improved since last year. They have made giant development leaps in F1 measures. But how reliable are they?
Let’s start with the gearbox.
Kimi failed to finish in Australia due to a wheel nut failure. This gave him the usual “free” gearbox change for Malaysia, and of course Ferrari took advantage. Marcus Ericsson failed to finish in Malaysia, and so changed to his 2nd gearbox before China. Neither retirement was due to a technical fault, so the assumption must be that the gearboxes were OK. They were changed simply because they could be, in accordance with the regulations.
Vettel and Nasr both went 6 full races on their first gearbox, and changed to #2 before Canada without penalty. Kimi finished races 2-7, and so will be running a new gearbox (his 3rd) in Austria. The two early changes bring Ferrari’s gearbox totals and averages down, with a total running distance on Gearbox 1 of 10,223 Km, and averaging 2,555 Km per box. On the whole though, the Ferrari gearbox seems as bulletproof as the Mercedes and the Williams.
Interestingly, because Kimi changed his gearbox for race two, he ends up being on the same replacement schedule as Bottas. So like Valtteri, barring a DNF, Kimi will end up running Abu Dhabi as the 6th race on his final gearbox.
Things looked pretty promising for everyone after race 2. Vettel won “on merit” as opposed to Mercedes having a failure. The media and the fans were all jumping on the Ferrari bandwagon. There was rampant speculation that there might be a real a real fight at the front this year. As we know this didn’t last long. Mercedes was back to their typical domination in China, and Ferrari’s answer was a new ICE in Bahrain, the other 5 elements of the Power Unit remained unchanged for another race.
Team Ferrari made it approximately 2,200 Km in each car before the ICE change. Ferrari then went 3 more races on the second ICE, completing Bahrain, Spain, and Monaco. Before Canada, they changed to ICE #3, and used their first Engine Tokens.
I won’t get into the complexities of the Token system here. There are many places you can read about it, including here on TJ13, but even what we seem to know for sure has been changing lately. For instance, the entire token system was an “accident” because the FIA “forgot” to put a homologation date in the regulations.
Stepping aside from all of that, Ferrari seems to have taken advantage of International Assistance once again. I would like to point out the following single line in the 2015 Formula One Sporting Regulations:
Apendix 4, Line 2
“A manufacturer may homologate no more than one specification of power unit.”
That might be the most clear and straightforward regulation in the entire sporting code, and yet Ferrari seems to have broken it.
Because Ferrari used tokens for their own cars in Canada, they had to re-homologate the Power Unit. Failing to upgrade Sauber’s Power Units to the same spec is a blatant violation on this rule. By the way, technically Ferrari was running THREE different specifications of Power Unit in Canada. They were given special dispensation at the beginning of the season to supply Manor with the 2014 Spec unit until they bring in their 2015 car, which we all know will never happen.
In any case, Ferrari’s ICE reliability does not look all that good. In the Team Ferrari cars, each of the first two ICE’s only made it 3 race weekends, and averaged just about 2,100 Km across the 4 units. My projections show that they will have at least one 10 place grid penalty coming for each Team car due to the need for ICE #5. This penalty will probably come around the U.S. or the Mexican GP. The rest of their Power Unit seems about on par with Mercedes however. Let’s hope they get it together, because if they continue to average 3 races an ICE they are going to be starting from the back quite a bit.
Please note that if Ferrari can get their current #3 ICE to last 5 races, they will be doing a complete PU change before the Italian GP, surprising exactly no-one.
The real question I have in terms of data, is if Ferrari are able to use their old ICE’s for Free Practice in the future. I think this is debatable. The first ICE may be useless, though the second ICE and the first set of MGU-K, MGU-H, CE, TC and Energy Store, may be combined to use for practice. We just don’t know. However the rules may prevent any of this. I believe the single homologation rule I mentioned earlier would prevent them from running an old spec and a new spec engine at the same time. So Ferrari may be restricted to run their current homologation for practice.
Though it appears Ferrari tried to keep Sauber on the same replacement schedule for the Power Unit, once the Ferrari Team changed ICE’s in Bahrain, that was out the window.
Sauber did not change anything in Bahrain, but waited until race 5 in Spain, and changed out the entire Power Unit sans the battery.
By the end of Bahrain and before the change, Ericsson’s first PU had made it 2,674 Km, Nasr 2,935. Sauber needs to get 5 races each out of Power Units 2-4 in order to avoid grid penalties. How any future token upgrades Ferrari chooses to do effect Sauber remains to be seen.
Ok, it’s finally time to discuss the red and white elephant in the The Judges towers, and by that I mean Manor. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I will clue you in. Manor is meaningless. They are running a 2014 Ferrari drive train, and any data they collect is useless to Ferrari, and therefore useless to us. I did not include them in any of the data or the calculations. To be honest; I didn’t even bother to collect the data. Sorry Manor fans, you can always wish upon a star for Manor to bring a 2015 spec car to bear, but my money would be on that car not arriving until sometime in 2016, if at all.
If by some miracle they make me eat my words, my punishment will be having to sort through their data too, and throwing off all of my calculations.
Next we will look at the Bulls, and see just how bad things are for Renault.