Sky F1’s Mark Hughes reflects on the difficulties encountered by Scuderia Ferrari in the first race of the 2019 Formula One season, followed by the strong performance in Bahrain, which in the end was hindered by Charles Leclerc’s engine issue.
“Part – and only part – of Ferrari’s problem in Melbourne was related to this. On the low-grip bumpy surface and on a track temperature outside of the soft tyre’s ideal range, the fronts were under-temperature and not generating the front-end bite needed for the drivers to be able to lean on the car.
When the tread is too cool, so the tyre does not build up as much lateral or longitudinal force and this, in turn, means that the core of the tyre is not being worked hard enough to get up to the required temperature and remains cool and inflexible.
The core’s natural ‘bendiness’ is an inherent part of the tyre’s grip and if it remains too cool it simply won’t work. The tread and core need to be balanced and in harmony. So Ferrari cranked more front wing onto the car – worsening its aero efficiency – but still it wasn’t enough.” – Mark Hughes explained for motorsportmagazine.com.
“Additionally, it’s now clear Ferrari was indeed running on reduced power during the race in Melbourne – but not in qualifying, when the normal modes were used. Sources inside the team insist it was forced to run the engine over-cool in Australia.
It was clearly protecting something it was nervous about (perhaps the ers that had failed in week two of Barcelona testing), hence it not running above mode 5 (out of 11) on race day (apart from the in/out laps).
If it was supplying the ers with extra cooling, then it’s quite feasible that the engine itself was over-cooled. With an over-cooled engine, the inlet air would be denser, effectively weakening the mixture and threatening detonation. To compensate, more fuel would be needed. Which would increase the fuel consumption despite the lower power, explaining the lifting/coasting seen late in the race from Sebastian Vettel.
Fast-forward to Bahrain and some modification – a ‘correction’ was the way it phrased it – gave Ferrari the confidence to run more aggressive engine modes. In addition, around this track there was no longer a problem generating the required front tyre temperatures – and so we saw a fully representative picture of the car’s true performance.” – Mark Hughes concluded.