Ferrari can make big gains despite engine freeze

2014 F1 season

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014Ferrari can make significant progress with the design of their power unit for next year despite the limits on development imposed by the rules, according to technical director James Allison.

Depending how the figures are interpreted, as little as 48% of the current designs can be changed for next year. But Allison says that leaves plenty of opportunities to improve their power unit.

“It’s true you can’t change every part of the engine, but the regulations say the majority of parts that can make a difference in terms of performance on the engine are still free,” he said.

“The 48% is not a binding figure and can be misleading compared to what are the real opportunities to improve the power output of the power unit. The way is completely open when it comes to the rules. In fact, our problem is not the rules, it’s the time needed to close such a big gap.

“Therefore we must make the most of every available minute from now to the final moment before the homologation date, which is 28 February 2015.”

For the second season with the hybrid V6 turbos teams will face the first in a series of escalating restrictions on how much development they can do. Elements of the crankshaft, crank case and air valve system will be frozen in specification.

Progressively tighter restrictions on engine development will be imposed in 2016, 2018 and 2019 – by which time almost the entire engine specification will be fixed.

Ferrari are the only one of the three engine manufacturers in F1 who are yet to win a race using the new engines. Allison said the power shortfall was their biggest deficit to Mercedes, but they were also lacking downforce as well.

“It’s not just the engine which has to improve, the chassis needs to also,” he added, “as does the suspension and every part of the car”.

“I don’t know if we can close the gap in just one year. We are trying, but as [team principal Marco] Mattiacci said, we are also looking at the medium to long-term future, not just the short term. He wants to get this team back to being ahead of all the rest and to have it stay there for many years.

“Having said that, we are working as hard as possible for next year, to have a much more competitive car. At the same time however, we are establishing the basis to make Ferrari the benchmark team in Formula One.”

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18 comments on Ferrari can make big gains despite engine freeze

  1. Mashiat (@mashiat) said on 3rd September 2014, 15:00

    Ferrari really need to perform next season! For everyone: Italy, their drivers, theirs fans, and also for the sport. Please Ferrari, you’re wasting the talent of two excellent drivers. I just don’t seem to understand your struggles. I mean, if Williams and Force India can produce better cars with half your budget, then something is completely wrong. Could you please bring in Ross Brawn. You can have a Mercedes-esque cast system with Matiacci like Wolff, and Brawn with Paddy, though I doubt Brawn will agree.

    • Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 4th September 2014, 2:44

      I dont think bringing Ross Brawn in is the right thing to do at Ferrari. It will be a step backwards, in the sense that, the team will still be living in the past. This has been one of the problems with Ferrari for a number years, they have been living in the past, off the legacy of the Schumacher years, hence the appointment of Mattiaci is exactly what the team needed, rightly or wrongly so.

      The likes of James Allison needs to be given time. Although the culling of big heads at Maranello seems a bit harsh, we should let Marco get on with it and give him a chance. I think 2016 will be the acid test. At that point, after all this money spent on new hires, if they still cant win the title, Ferrari will need to re-evaluate its F1 operation. It took Mercedes 3 years to build a title winning team. I remember the how they were being criticised a few years back when they setup their “top heavy” organization. Where are the nay-sayers now?

      Here’s me hoping that Ferrari produce a title winning car in 2016.

  2. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 3rd September 2014, 15:14

    Ferrari are the only one of the three engine manufacturers in F1 who are yet to win a race using the new engines.

    Imagine reading that 10 years ago… I’m not sure what I would’ve been more shocked by – Ferrari producing the weakest engine or the fact that there would only be three manufacturers.

    • kpcart said on 3rd September 2014, 15:25

      to be honest it was a lottery as to who would be ahead this year with the new engine specifications, Mercedes won it. but in years past, development was allowed, so with no restrictions, Ferrari at this moment could still have the required competitive power. this engine homologation worked on the v8s because the engines were similarily powered, but now there are more ancillaries that produce the power at to homologate after 12 days testing was ridiculous and bad for the competition of F1. Honda have an advantage over Renault and Ferrari as they have got to know what configurations of turbos etc each manufacturer is running, so should at least be ahead of Renault and Ferrari next year. I just hope Renault and Ferrari are allowed to modify their turbos systems to the bi turbo system Mercedes uses. would be great to see a level playing field, and let the best team win again instead of the best team of the Mercedes runners. it would be such a shame for this sport that prides itself on technological development if this Mercedes advantage was locked in until 2020

  3. Joshua Mesh (@joshua-mesh) said on 3rd September 2014, 15:15

    Merc can make equal gains, thus making it all pointless XD

    • Mashiat (@mashiat) said on 3rd September 2014, 15:19

      Merc will still be ahead, no doubt. But let’s hope that they are a lot closer in performance so that hopefully it will be a lot more like the V8 era.

    • Paul A (@paul-a) said on 3rd September 2014, 15:23

      Knowledge of the competition (legal industrial espionage) and hindsight leave Ferrari with more wiggle room. It’s easier to improvement a lemon than a peach.

    • kpcart said on 3rd September 2014, 15:27

      no they cant, there system is more optimised, so they have little more to gain. they are running a completely different turbo setup to Renault and Ferrari, that is the main difference. the internal combustion parts… that is all old hat for all the manufacturers… it would be as close as previous v8 generation. Merc have the advantage, but it can be closed easily if development was allowed.

    • Principle of Diminishing Returns will work against Merc.
      The closer you are to the optimum the smaller the improvements achievable (given a certain investment).

      • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 3rd September 2014, 17:23

        Good point and that should work in favor of Ferrari and Renault. Ferrari has the additional burden of much needed chassis improvement, as noted by James Allison in the article. Red Bull, as well as Merc, are a good distance ahead of Ferrari there.

  4. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 3rd September 2014, 17:15

    Can anyone tell me how long these new engines are going to be around for? Hopefully not much longer than 2019 – it’s been fascinating watching all the teams adapt to the radical new rules, and I’d be happy to see even more complex power units come into the sport in the future. If only this could be done without an astronomical amount of money being spent.

    • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 3rd September 2014, 17:32

      @colossal-squid
      I do wonder what the next logical step would be. Maybe a 4 cylinder hybrid? Allow any config of 4 cylinder ICE, flat opposing, V-4 or inline- flat or vertical. Combined with further enhanced electric power this could continue a leading edge development mentality applicable to road cars.

      Tech developments over the next 4 – 5 years could dictate a different direction. But, seeing how we already have a completely electric series it seems a future hybrid would be the way to go.

      The R & D for whatever configuration probably will be quite expensive though.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd September 2014, 23:38

        @bullmello, For 2020 how about 1L. or 1.2L turbos, any configuration, RPM for max power up to 15,000 , the Hybrid/electric power pack frozen so only the ICE development to be an expense, the increased revs compensating for the reduced volume, a better but still (or more) individual exhaust sound, smaller lighter ICE to improve packaging/performance.May the best man(ufacturer) win.

  5. Strontium (@strontium) said on 3rd September 2014, 18:50

    While I am aware that in terms of cost cutting the engine freeze is good, and there are several other advantages, the reality is F1 is a competition whereby not just the constructors themselves, but many companies are competing to be the best in what they do, such as providing parts. The engine companies are competing to push forward and have the best engine, and I think they should all be able to push near to the maximum that they can (within that year’s regulations), or otherwise have sole suppliers such as with the tyres and Pirelli. The engine freeze at the moment gives a complete disadvantage to those who start off worse. I think Renault and Ferrari have it spot on in saying that it should be opened up more, not all the way, but more.

    • Strontium (@strontium) said on 3rd September 2014, 22:50

      I’d just like to add that by 2019 which ever engine is on top may well stay there. The best engine will potentially go to the top 3 teams who can afford it (excluding Ferrari and Mercedes), so the poorer teams may end up losing out and might just do even worse. It may be very different by then but as it stands that is a possibility.

    • Mark in Florida said on 3rd September 2014, 23:19

      I think that Renault and Ferrari believed that they could produce a superior engine compared to Mercedes. The team’s did agree to the engine formula and Renault pushed for it vociferously. It appears that they underestimated what Mercedes would do. Mercedes may or may not be maxed out with their engine design we really don’t know. Their energy recovery and turbo integration could be improved even more putting them further in the lead. If so it will make it harder for the other teams to catch up despite whatever changes that they can come up with.

  6. SauberS1 (@saubers1) said on 3rd September 2014, 23:21

    I’m not surprised.

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