Scueria Ferrari considers the subject of whether its 2018 Formula 1 car is legal to be “completely closed” after passing a number of FIA checks this year.
The FIA monitored Ferrari’s power unit earlier this season in Monaco and Canada to ensure it was operating within the regulations after suspicion was raised by its rivals, but the Scuderia was found to be doing nothing illegal following a deep investigation into the way its innovative Energy Recovery System works.
Significant gains in engine performance over the winter appears to have helped Ferrari overtake Mercedes as the new power unit benchmark in the V6 hybrid era, prompting Lewis Hamilton to call upon his team to match the “trick things” on its rivals car after seeing his championship lead whittled down to 17 points by Sebastian Vettel in Belgium.
“Obviously the power unit is a complex element, it has been since 2014,” Ferrari technical director Mattia Binotto said during the Italian Grand Prix weekend at Monza – “The FIA is fully aware of our components and it’s our duty [to cooperate] each time the FIA is not fully convinced that there is something right or wrong for them to inspect, to understand better. I think it’s simply what happens at the time there is some questions: we answer; we explain and I think that’s what happens. That’s it. The FIA certainly is happy, declaring our car legal at every single race, and on our side, honestly, fully happy at seeing the point is completely closed by them.” – he explained.
Ferrari has not won its home event at Monza since Fernando Alonso’s victory in 2010 but heads into this year’s race as favourites, with Vettel following up on his victory at Spa by setting the pace ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen in Friday practice – finishing over 0.2s clear of Hamilton.
“I’m always more keen to look at the whole package and not try to split it into different factors.” – Mattia Binotto added – “I think the difference to Mercedes overall was very small in the end [at Spa]. They were on pole in qualifying, so they have been the fastest car, as a matter of fact, and in the race our pace was very similar. So to try to distinguish if there is a little difference and where it is coming from is very difficult. Our package is working as a whole: from the aero, mechanical, chassis and power unit and I think that as well in terms of development, we are focused on all the areas.”
Mercedes engineering chief Aldo Costa, who is set to step down from his position at the end of the current campaign as part of a major reshuffle at the reigning world champions, believes that while outright power is important, a number of factors will be key in determining the destination of this year’s title fight.
“Race-to-race there is always a variability of performance that is related to many aspects – type of circuit, tyre management, performance elements of the car itself,” Costa said.
“When two cars are very, very close you will see variability. We see that Ferrari has done big progress in the power unit and we see that we have got two cars that are quite similar, both very competitive.
“It will be a matter of introducing development, solving more issues and being the best car. Not making mistakes and having good reliability will be key.”