What Ferrari is changing on its engine for F1 2021
Its 2020 campaign was derailed by a combination of a too draggy car being further hampered by an engine that was less powerful than the 2019 version.
That performance deficit was the result of a raft of technical directives issued by the FIA ahead of the season to stop teams using clever tricks to get around fuel flow measurement regulations.
The extent of Ferrari’s engine struggles came to light in 2020 pre-season testing, but any hopes of introducing major upgrades to the power unit during the campaign were derailed by a development freeze introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It meant Ferrari had to live through the entire season with the same power unit, with changes only possible over the winter.
The team’s 2021 engine is now in the advanced design stages, and it is understood features some interesting developments that it hopes will deliver a good power boost.
Rather than going for anything revolutionary, Ferrari is understood to be looking at making incremental changes to all aspects of the thermal properties and electric power train, which it believes will add up to a sizeable gain overall.
It is understood that Ferrari did evaluate a change of concept in going down the Mercedes route of splitting the turbine and compressor to sit at either side of the internal combustion engine.
However, while the evaluation of that idea is continuing under a project group led by Wolff Zimmermann, who has been commissioned the look at innovative longer term solutions with Graz-based AVL, for now the two turbo components will remain where they have been previously.
Instead, the key change that Ferrari engine chief Enrico Gualtieri will introduce is the debut of a ‘superfast’ cylinder head – which had originally been anticipated for introduction in 2022.
The new design will help achieve greater fuel atomisation and a higher pressure in the combustion chamber, as teams to try to get close to the 500 bar limit laid down in the regulations.
As well as a newly designed piston crown (which remains constructed in steel), and intake ducts on the camshaft, it is believed Ferrari has looked at the use of new alloys that will help ensure reliability is not compromised by the boost in performance.
The new Ferrari engine will also not give up the wastegate valve (which can be removed this year for the first time), in order to exploit as much as possible the aerodynamic effect of the blown exhaust.
Reliability problems with the narrow exhausts also appear to have been resolved, as, thanks to a new gearbox, the Coca Cola-bottle area of the car will be larger and therefore the pipework has to be crammed into a smaller space.
Engine cooling systems have also been revised, in a bid to change the radiator design used in 2020 that ended up producing too much drag in the sidepods and further hampering the straightline speed of the SF1000.
The new Ferrari power unit is also believed to have a slightly smaller turbine than the one used on the 065/2, in an attempt to improve electrical charging.
The idea is to have a more efficient energy recovery system, so that the delivery of about 160 hp of the MGU-K can last longer throughout the lap. This will be important in trying to reduce the overall deficit to Mercedes.