Honda has also noticed the lower Ferrari speed on the straights compared to his own engine in the USA, but technical director Toyoharu Tanabe does not go as far as his driver Max Verstappen, who accused Ferrari of cheating after the race. He wants to wait for more races to get a clear picture.
Ferrari followed the lead in the Austin race: Charles Leclerc was more than 50 seconds behind at the finish. The Scuderia explains this with an engine of an older specification and high running time as well as a set-up experiment that reduced the top speed.
However, rivals believe that it is related to an FIA technical directive that prevents a Ferrari trick on the fuel flow meter. Red Bull had asked the federation to clarify the legality and received a negative response in three scenarios, whereupon the FIA sent the directive.
But Honda technical director Toyoharu Tanabe, unlike Verstappen, doesn’t want to take just one race as a reference: “We need the data from Brazil and Abu Dhabi,” he says to Motorsport-Total.com. “Then we’ll find out something. We can’t say anything about this one race.”
Tanabe only states: Ferrari’s package “was different”.
For where the reasons for Ferrari’s speed disadvantage lie, he can only speculate: “We can’t separate air resistance from engine performance,” he says. “The gap between Ferrari and us in terms of speed is smaller than in the previous races. That’s clear. But we don’t know whether it’s just the engine or the chassis,” he says.
“Their race space was not as strong as in previous races. That means their package was different or didn’t fit the track,” Tanabe says. “I don’t know. But we see the difference in the top speeds.”
Ferrari was only in eighth and ninth place in the top speeds during qualifying, and only 13th and 16th in the race. In Mexico they were still leading the field with a lead of almost five km/h advantage in qualifying.
Bottas: “To whom it may concern, thank you!”