Ferrari’s performance in Istanbul lifted the Scuderia’s spirits, not so much for Charles Leclerc’s fourth place finish, but for the excellent form the car expressed in relation to the performance of the previous races. The single-seater number 16 of the Monegasque was in fact constantly close to the leaders Mercedes and Red Bull, before the diversification of strategies opened the gap in the final part of the race. Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, recovered from the penultimate place on the starting grid to eighth place at the checkered flag, making numerous overtakes in a race in which no one was able to benefit from the help of the DRS.
Overall, the performance of the Red team in Turkey was the result of a well-balanced car that benefited from environmental and track conditions useful to limit the difficulties of the SF21. The high grip of the surface and the scarce water on the track on Sunday made it easier for the intermediate tires to warm up, an aspect in which the Ferrari 2021 has often highlighted shortcomings. In addition to the weather conditions and the positive work on the set-up in Istanbul, the top management of the Scuderia also attributed the merits of the performance to the new hybrid system of the power unit which anticipates some key concepts of the 2022 single-seater.
The clues to the benefits of the updated power unit do not lie in the straight-line top speed rankings, in which Charles Leclerc’s SF21 car was good both in qualifying and in the race. The speed stats were in fact influenced by the tows and above all by a particularly low-profile aerodynamic configuration for the Monegasque, as evidenced by the spoon-shaped rear wing. Furthermore, the power unit probably did not enjoy an increase in the maximum power released by the hybrid part, since the MGU-K, the electric motor generator connected to the rear wheels, is limited by regulation to a maximum power of 120 kW. The MGU-H, on the other hand, does not deliver power to the wheels, but helps the turbocharger to compress the air in the combustion chamber, where the maximum pressure is limited by the structural integrity of the heat engine.
As pointed out by Mattia Binotto, the main advantage lies instead in the better efficiency of the hybrid part. On the one hand, in fact, the new battery manufacturing technology allows better recharging under braking by exploiting the kinetic energy regenerated by the MGU-K and the residual thermal energy in the exhaust gases converted by the MGU-H. On the other hand, in Maranello, efforts were made to reduce energy dissipation both in traction and in braking. In this regard, the rumor has recently circulated that Ferrari has switched from a 400 V battery to an 800 V battery with a lower current intensity, thus reducing energy dissipation. The combined result of the two aspects is a greater availability of energy, allowing the two electric motors to be powered for a longer period of time than in the past.
It is therefore understood that the main advantage was not an increase in the maximum electrical power, but the extension of the time intervals in which the maximum power of the hybrid is available, resulting in a greater average power per lap. In addition to the energy aspect, a lot of work has also been done in Maranello on the thermal management of the various components of the hybrid part, so as to extend the use of electric motors in contexts in which in the past the limit was not represented by energy availability, but by reliability and high temperatures.
Further advantages of the new hybrid will be appreciable starting from 2022. As reported in recent weeks by Alberto Antonini for FormulaPassion.it, the new MGU-K and MGU-H have been downsized and designed to require less heat dissipation by the cooling system. This will allow the design of smaller radiators, thus leading to the design of more compact sides to the advantage of external aerodynamics. The teams will therefore be called upon to seek the optimal compromise between a design of the sides hollowed down and a rounder one, in order to make the most of the new grilles and to be able to minimize the rear vent of the hood for hot air.