Formula 1 fans, teams, and the FIA have taken much interest in the top speeds of the Ferrari car this season, the Scuderia’s SF90 F1 car is uncannily quick with an apparent top speed beyond all the competition, proven by multiple pole positions – that was up until Austin.
Yesterday, Motorsport.it (Italian branch of the infamous motorsport.com network monopoly) published an article claiming that they have an insider within the FIA. This ‘reputable source’ has confirmed power outputs discovered in the Ferrari after new testing recently mandated on Ferrari, Alfa Romeo (using a Ferrari PU) and Honda.
“An authoritative character who wants to remain anonymous has told us that the FIA telemetry has recorded only a small difference in power between the discussed power unit of the Prancing Horse and other engines” writes the Italian author Franco Nugnes.
In the article, Nugnes claims his source is reporting a fairly low ‘delta’, or difference, between other manufacturers power units tested. The anonymous source says that the Ferrari power unit produces about 26-30 more horsepower. Further, the source says that the FIA is “able to read all the telemetry data of the teams for which they would have been able to record the anomalous data that have been reported by both Red Bull and Mercedes.”
The anomalous data being the suspicion of up to around 70 hp over and above their respective power outputs. An increase that can only be achieved by cheating or that’s the implication for this ‘clarification’.
With the new technical directive issued by the FIA at Austin for the US Grand Prix, limiting the maximum fuel flow to 100 kg/h and focusing on the possibility that cooling oil from a separate system for the turbo assembly, could be permeating into the combustion chambers.
Of course, such a trick could increase the horsepower of the internal combustion unit dramatically.
Many of the tin hat brigade, along with much of the British media, do think there’s more than just a coincidence between this directive and a sudden drop in performance on the straights for Ferrari.
Nugnes continues to explain how his source claims that, in their opinion, Ferrari has achieved a high top speed in a more holistic manner in a similar vein to Ferrari’s team boss’ explanations over the months.
“…a superiority in the endothermic engine, but also an excellent strategy in the use of electric energy that, associated with unquestionably very efficient aerodynamics, produces less resistance”, therefore achieving top speeds faster than the competition.
One cannot help but feel that the Italian edition of motorsport.com is somewhat bias to the national team (unsurprisingly), to paint a favourable picture on the Ferrari top speed investigation. Not that I’d ever want to throw any journalistic integrity suspicions on our Italian colleagues.
Certainly, peak power isn’t the only true measure, and really the deployment of electrical energy and how it puts down the power on track all have a significant bearing on Ferrari’s apparent speed advantage. Something that the source doesn’t mention.
Further, it is thought that the source is reporting to Nugnes on the results of the most recent testing of Ferrari, Alfa Romeo’s Ferrari and a Honda power unit. It’s important to note that these tests happened after the race weekend in Austin along with its technical directive ‘clarifying’ oil burning from the coolant in the turbo. Therefore, the engine might not be doing it’s trick at the time of testing, if it was even doing that in the first place.
That said, to achieve anything close to the alledged 70 hp would need a serious amount of oil osmosis. Probably, the truth of the matter is somewhere in the middle.