Ferrari to test improved F1 engine at USGP

The Formula One gods have not been kind to Charles LeClerc this season. After three rounds the Monegasque had claimed two wins and was 46 points ahead of his main championship rival Max Verstappen. Yet after 18 rounds and 9 pole positions, the Ferrari driver has won just more race in at the GP of Austria.

Sergio Pérez has two race wins this season and Charles’ Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz has one. Verstappen has claimed the other 12 and if he wins in Austin Max will equal the all time record of race wins within 1 season.

The record is held jointly by Michael Schumacher from 2004 and Sebastian Vettel from his final championship year with Red Bull 2013. Surprisingly Lewis Hamilton despite having a dominant Mercedes car for years as did Vettel and Schumacher has failed to rack up more than 11 wins in any calendar year.



Verstappen F1 records keep on coming

There were 18 rounds in the 2004 season and 19 during Vettel’s last winning campaign. Verstappen could win all the remains rounds of the 2022 championship taking alone the record for total wins in an F1 season.

However, Vettel’s win rate was 68% in 2013 and Schumachers 72%. With 22 races this season to take the overall best win % rate for an F1 campaign Verstappen needs to all 4 rounds available to pip Schumacher by 0.5%.

Yet the back story to the 2022 F1 season is what might have been for Ferrari? 



Ferrari 2022 car quicker than RB18, but….

The F1-75 has proven to be quicker than there Red Bull on Saturday and much of this is to do with how Ferrari use a different brake design to Red Bull. 

As Autosport reports different teams have responded to the regulation changes in different ways. “Red Bull, McLaren, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri adopt an internal brake disc fairing.”

“Meanwhile, Ferrari,  Alpine Aston Martin and Haas are the four teams that have left the disc exposed within the now much larger brake drum, as its size has been increased to fit within the enlarged wheel well.”

This allows the Ferrari to heat its tyres up more quickly for a single lap qualifying shootout, but the additional temperature gain is reversed on Sunday as the F1-75 wears out its tyres more quickly than the Red Bull.



Ferrari reliability cost LeClerc a shot at title

Yet Charles LeClerc’s dramatic fall from being F1 championship contender to ‘also ran’ is about more than tyre management. Yes LeClerc made embarrassing mistakes in Imola and at Apul Ricard, but Ferrari reliability initiated the Charles slide from the top of the drivers’ table.

Power unit failures in Spain when leading the race and 2 rounds later in Azerbaijan firmly put LeClerc on the back foot. These were sandwiched by a disastrous strategy call in Monaco that saw race leader LeClerc relegated to just P4.

Ferrari are about to fit a 6th internal combustion engine to LeClerc’s car for the Austin weekend. For this the Ferrari driver will receive a 5 place grid drop form where he qualifies on Saturday.



Ferrari test improved F1 engine in Austin Texas

However, it’s not all bad news for Charles and Ferrari because the engine replacement is not because of mileage issues or failures to the first 5 ICE’s. It is in fact because Ferrari are testing an improved version of the V6 hybrid for the last four races of the season.

The design of each of the F1 power units is now frozen to the end of 2025 however teams are allowed under the FIA regulations to replace certain elements to improve reliability, Italian media is reporting.

Unlike Mercedes replacing Hamilton’s power unit at the 2021 Brazilian GP for performance reasons alone, it is indisputable Ferrari have reliability problems with certain components of their power unit as exemplified by the team’s double DNF for LeClerc and Sainz in Baku.



A better Ferrari PU for 2023

If the tests are successful on the new components they will be incorporated into the 2023 season Ferrari power unit.

Carlos Sainz will not receive the improved components presumably either for budget cap reasons or to benchmark the older Ferrari power unit with the new.

The drivers’ championship has been completed with 4 rounds remaining in 2022, something last achieved by Sebastian Vettel. For the sake of the spectacle most F1 observers would like to see Ferrari sort out their reliability problems and give Red Bull a run for their money next season.

READ MORE: Hamilton “over the hill” says F1 race commentator

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