Ferrari took ‘systematic’ approach to new F1 power unit design

Ferrari says it took a “systematic” approach to designing its new Formula 1 power unit for the 2021 season after struggling for performance throughout last year.

Ferrari slumped to its worst season in 40 years in 2020 as it struggled with both a draggy SF1000 car and an underperforming power unit, the latter a consequence of a private settlement with the FIA over its 2019 engine.

It limited Ferrari to sixth place in the constructors’ championship and just three podium finishes, while customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas finished eighth and ninth respectively.

Ferrari has designed an all-new power unit ahead of the 2021 season after the regulations prevented in-season updates last year, allowing it to focus on every single area to make improvements.

“We tried to use a systematic approach calling on all of our departments - planning, simulation, development, the track - looking for any chance to improve,” explained Ferrari’s head of power unit Enrico Gualtieri.

“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.”

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Gualtieri explained how Ferrari had managed to find a performance gain of over one-tenth of a second per lap in the main engine alone.

“We continuously worked on the internal combustion engine, aiming to increase its thermal efficiency with help also coming from our partner Shell, which has led to an advantage estimated at over one-tenth of a second per lap,” he said.

"The turbo compressor has been revised to meet the needs of the engine, and at the same time we have planned to increased 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 optimising them.

“The season we’re about to begin also has a 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 to time and to introduce most of the possible developments right from the first race.

“We have put enormous energy into this project but at the same time we’re working hard on the power unit for 2022. It will debut next year, and it’ll be even more important, because it will be with us for at least three years of races.”

After last year’s power unit proved to be by far the slowest in a straight line, Ferrari F1 chief Mattia Binotto said at last month’s team launch that the initial data suggested this had been resolved for 2021.

“Based on our simulations today, based on what we can see in terms of power output from the dynos, and the drag of the car from the wind tunnel, I think that we recovered quite a lot of speed on the straights,” Binotto said.

“So I'm expecting the speed not to be such an issue as it was. We hope to be competitive, but we will know it only when being in Bahrain, because it's always relative to what the others are doing.

“But we believe that our car is certainly more efficient compared to the one we had last year, and when I'm saying efficient, again, it is both from the aero point of view, and from the power unit point of view.”

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