Ferrari has confessed that it took some risks by introducing its improved Formula One engine in recent races, but the advantage it now has is undeniable.
The Italian manufacturer decided to postpone the introduction of some enhanced 2021 power unit components until the second part of the season, in order to maximize development time while the engine freeze was in effect.
The development was granted the green light at the Russian Grand Prix, where Charles Leclerc was penalized for using the enhanced power unit. Carlos Sainz, who started at the back of the grid last weekend in Turkey, followed suit and made a strong return through the field.
Ferrari’s chances of beating McLaren to third place in the constructors’ championship have been enhanced, thanks to an improvement in performance as Leclerc challenged for a podium in Istanbul.
The extra power on hand now, according to team principal Mattia Binotto, is a byproduct of what was originally intended to be a learning exercise for 2022. And, according to him, there was a risk in Ferrari pushing to use the engine as soon as possible rather than waiting until the end of the season.
“When we introduced it in Sochi, the first objective was to try to increase our experience in the view of 2022,” explained Binotto. “That’s why we introduced it as soon as possible, trying to rush it, taking some risks as well, but it’s all a risk assessment.
“Obviously for us it’s clear to get mileage on-track and do our own experience before 2022 where the power units will be frozen. For us, that was the key and the reason of that.”
With only 7.5 points between Ferrari and McLaren in the battle for best of the rest, any extra performance might be crucial in their battle.
The power improvement from the new engine, according to Binotto, was not significant, but it was well worth the effort.
“It is giving us a small advantage, but I don’t want to quantify it on lap time because it is track dependent,” he said. “It’s not only pure ICE power, it’s energy recovery, so it’s a bit complex. But certainly it’s giving us an advantage.
“If I look as well at qualifying with Charles, he had the fourth best lap time, and if I look behind him, it was very close. I’m pretty sure that a couple of positions would have been lost without that specification.”
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