Ferrari believes it has found more than 0.1s in lap time through an increased level of thermal efficiency from the internal combustion engine (ICE) in its power unit.
Technical directives that were introduced in late 2019 and early 2020 relating to the power unit had a major impact on Ferrari’s level of competitiveness, with the Scuderia reaching a settlement with the FIA after an investigation and dropping from second to sixth in the constructors’ championship. As a result, much of the focus over the winter has been on what the new power unit might produce, and head of power unit Enrico Gualtieri says the ICE has delivered a clear gain.
“The verdict that came out of our results on the track last season, 2020, is clear and unmistakeable, and now acts as our starting point,” Gualtieri said. “In one way or another, all of us were forced to face the emergency situation of a global COVID pandemic with all of its consequences. These consequences have changed all of our lives, and as regards regulations they imposed a freeze during the 2020 season.
“This encouraged all of us to change our way of working, our strategy. We had to react but unfortunately we weren’t able to change all the areas of the power unit, the internal combustion motor, the turbo compressor, the hybrid system and the overall layout of the power unit.
“We tried to use a systematic approach, calling on all of our departments at the same time: planning, simulation, development, the track, looking for any chance to improve. We identified the things we could work on later after giving attention to the main ones, without forgetting the impact every choice would have on reliability.
“As a consequence, along with the chassis engineers, we have worked considerably on the layout of the power unit, trying to make the overall project for the car as efficient as possible. We continuously worked on the internal combustion motor, aiming to increase its level of thermal efficiency, in conjunction with our partner Shell and this has produced an improvement in lap time that we estimate at over one tenth of a second.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) March 10, 2021
But Gualtieri says there has also been work in other areas, with such limited in-season upgrades meaning the first iteration of the power unit needs to be heavily developed.
“The turbo compressor has been revised to meat the needs of the motor and at the same time we have planned to increase efficiency in the recovery of exhaust fumes. We’re also working on the hybrid system, on the electronic part, trying to revise all of its components and optimizing them.
“The season we’re about to begin also has phase of preparation with respect to the new regulations in which the hours of development of the power unit have been reduced even more. These regulations encourage us to be ready ahead of time and to introduce most of the possible developments right from the first race.”
The power unit gains should also benefit Ferrari customers Haas and Alfa Romeo, who both finished in the bottom three of the constructors’ championship last season.