Formula 1: does Ferrari benefit from E10 petrol?

Ferrari has risen. The prancing horse is galloping again in Formula 1: Charles Leclerc (24) is leading the world championship after two races ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz (27). A win and a second place for the Monegasque underscore the renaissance of the Reds.
But whenever a team is suddenly ahead, there are doubts. Especially with the competition. In the sights of Ferrari: the renewed hybrid drive. “I don’t know what kind of engine the Haas have, but I can’t follow them,” ex-world champion Lewis Hamilton radioed in the Bahrain GP when he had no chance against the Ferrari-powered Kevin Magnussen in ninth place.

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The problem: Such conspiracy theories usually arise when a team was able to achieve a decisive improvement compared to the previous year. This is clearly the case with Ferrari.

“Ferrari now has by far the best engine,” says Christian Danner in AvD Motor und Sport Magazin. “It used to happen, but it wasn’t completely clean at the time (among other things; ed.) with Sebastian Vettel. After the change he was really bad. Now he’s suspiciously good again. That’s why there’s speculation in the paddock as to how it’s going to work.”

Two years ago it was still an air pump, now Ferrari has the most powerful engine in the field.

Background: After Ferrari drove away on the straights in the first half of 2019, the competition suspected an illegal trick. The rule-keepers of the FIA ​​pushed various guidelines for the operation of the unit. Suddenly the advantage vanished. During the winter break, the FIA ​​launched an investigation. The result: a secret deal between Ferrari and then FIA President Jean Todt. The result: in 2020 Vettel and Leclerc had an air pump in the rear. Since then it was clear in the scene: Ferrari had exploited more than just a gray area.

But exactly this process could now play into the hands of the Scuderia. At the time, the punishment also included Ferrari’s obligation to support the FIA ​​in researching biofuel.

“The FIA ​​and Ferrari have agreed on a number of technical commitments,” the press release said at the time, “which will improve the monitoring of all Formula 1 power units for the upcoming championship season and assist the FIA ​​in other regulatory tasks in Formula 1 as well as in their research activities on CO2 emissions and synthetic fuels.”

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This fits in: For 2022, the world association has increased the proportion of sustainable components in fuel from five to ten percent. All engine manufacturers had to adapt the combustion chambers of their 1.6-liter V6 turbos. Insiders rumor that it costs around 20 hp, which Ferrari, together with fuel partner Shell, is said to have made up for a long time ago.

Ex-Formula 1 team boss Colin Kolles in AvD Motor und Sport Magazin: “Looking back, maybe the penalty wasn’t a penalty at all. Maybe Ferrari even unintentionally benefited from the joint research with the FIA?”

In any case, one thing is certain: Mercedes suffered more from the fuel conversion than Ferrari or Red Bull-Honda. Kolles reveals: “I heard that the engine was missing 0.5 seconds per lap in Saudi Arabia.” Red Bull chief adviser Helmut Marko doesn’t quite believe it: “It’s not that much, but the engine is definitely behind there.”

Mercedes are lacking power this season.

But are Ferrari and Red Bull really that good or is Mercedes unusually bad? Experts speculate that the Silver Arrows, among other things, ex-motor boss Andy Cowell is missing. The father of the hybrid monster left the Mercedes engine workshop in Brixworth in mid-2020. Other top technicians have migrated to Red Bull in 2021, including Ben Hodgkinson, who worked at Mercedes as chief engine mechanic.

Mercedes team boss Wolff does not want to put the drive at the center of criticism. “It’s important not to point your finger at individual areas of the car. We operate as a team and we have deficits that are far greater than just an engine deficit.”

What can still become a big problem for the former permanent winners: The power units were frozen before the start of the season until the end of 2025 for cost reasons. This means that further developments for performance purposes are prohibited.

A situation in which one’s own scope for action is limited triggers suspicions about the competition. It is unlikely that Ferrari will be slowed down again. Reason: Unlike 2019, the lead is not inexplicably large. Rather, it seems that Mercedes, for the first time in eight years, has not built the ultimate in the engine sector. A natural development in sport. Every3 dominance ends at some point. Also those from Mercedes.

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