Ferrari’s backwards form reopens engine wounds

Adam Cooper
·2-min read

In February, the governing body announced that it had reached a “settlement” with Ferrari after an investigation into its 2019 power unit.

Since then rival team bosses have made it clear that they want to know more details of what Ferrari was found to be doing, and what the settlement consists of.

The FIA insists that it can only release details if Ferrari agrees, something which the Italian outfit is adamant it will not do because of the risk of it releasing confidential IP.

While Ferrari has to this point insisted that new checks this year have had no impact on its engine performance, and any straightline speed drop is down to aero, the performance in Austria has raised the eyebrows of rival teams.

Last year in Austria, Charles Leclerc took pole for Ferrari, while Kevin Magnussen was fifth for Haas and the Alfas of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi started seventh and eighth.

In qualifying for this year’s race Leclerc was the best placed Ferrari-powered driver in 7th place, with a lap 0.920s slower than his own 2019 pole time. His teammate Sebastian Vettel didn’t make it out of Q2 in 11th.

The Haas drivers qualified 15th and 16th, with a best time 0.621s slower than last year, while the Alfas were 18th and 19th and 1.119s off the team’s 2019 best, although admittedly neither driver had a clean final lap in Q3.

Here is a comparison of last year’s best team times compared to last years, with only the Ferrari-powered outfits have fallen away.

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal Ferrari in the press conference

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal Ferrari in the press conference<span class="copyright">FIA Pool</span>
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal Ferrari in the press conferenceFIA Pool

FIA Pool

Austrian GP best qualifying time comparison 2019 to 2020

Alfa Romeo: +1.119s

Ferrari: + 0.920s

Haas: + 0.619s

Red Bull: + 0.038s

Mercedes: - 0.323s

AlphaTauri: - 0.360s

McLaren: - 0.473s

Renault: - 0.493s

Williams: - 0.737s

Racing Point: - 0.929s

The Ferrari performance has put a renewed focus on the controversy surrounding the 2019 power unit, with rival teams noting that data clearly indicated the cars losing out on the straights compared with last year.

The works Ferraris were also at the bottom of the two main speed traps some 10km/h down on the works Mercedes cars.

However the Alfas were near the top, suggesting that the Hinwil outfit has significantly trimmed downforce levels in order to compensate, which in turn has cost the drivers grip in the corners.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000<span class="copyright">Steven Tee / Motorsport Images</span>
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Steven Tee / Motorsport Images