Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Ferrari power unit ‘might be better than Mercedes’

2017 F1 season

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Ferrari’s 2017 power unit could be more than a match for rivals Mercedes, according to Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

Haas is the only customer team with access to Ferrari’s 2017-specification hardware as Sauber are using last year’s engine. Steiner says the new unit is a major step forwards.

“With the engine, there is not just one area that is better, it’s the whole package that has improved from last year,” he said.

“It’s now as competitive as a Mercedes engine, if not better.”

“Ferrari won in Australia, but everybody is developing and trying to get better. It’s always going to be a development race. They’ve made a good step, and without that help from Ferrari, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

Romain Grosjean gave Haas their best qualifying performance to date in Australia with sixth on the grid. Steiner said the team had been “hoping to get into Q3, but we weren’t sure because it’s so tight in the midfield”.

“Then to be sixth, with this distance to our next competitor, four-tenths, it surprised us.”

“Obviously, we need to keep it up, or we need to try to do it again, to prove that this is where we should be. It will be difficult to keep that pace, or that distance, or even get into Q3 all the time because it’s very competitive.”

Steinger admitted he was satisfied to have answered those who suggested the team might suffer from second-year syndrome in 2017.

“There will always be doubters,” he said. “We’ll always be told that next year will be more difficult, and then we have to prove it again.”

“You have to prove yourself every year in Formula One. Again, qualifying sixth in the first race of 2017 quieted our critics a little bit. They will come back, but we proved we didn’t just get lucky last year.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 19 comments on “Ferrari power unit ‘might be better than Mercedes’”

    1. I think that’s a bit too optimistic, Mercedes was quicker on the motor-depending Sector 1 of Melbourne, and Ferrari made up time on the other two aero sectors. Even if Mercedes was prioritizing top speed and Ferrari aero, I can’t see how you can make that claim right now.

      1. Suspect he is referring to the midfielders, not the top 3 teams.

      2. Mercedes were running less rear wing though.

        But the next few races will tell if the Ferrari unit is indeed as good as, or even better than the Merc.

      3. The power and top speed itself may not be the factors, which make it better though. The driveability of the unit might be better, for example. It does seem that the performance aspect is much closer, but clearly Ferrari are doing something right.

      4. Honestly, I think Ferrari are not up to the mark.

        We managed to be strong on one of the sectors but that’s about it. Further along the season Ferarri could manage to keep up the same pace, but ultimately will need to depend on some weakness from Mercedes in order to put up a fight.

        China is not strongly aero dependent so I expect a front row lockout by Ham and Bottas.

        1. China is not strongly aero dependent

          You sure about that ?
          China is more aero dependent than Melbourne the entire Second Sector is required a much much better aero balance to negotiate the high speed bends and quick direction changes.

          1. miki, you’re right that it does have a reasonably high aero dependency, but it is also the case that the cars tend to be limited by the front grip in Shanghai of the tyres instead of the rear tyres (which is more usual at most circuits).

            1. Race distance wise yes its more on fronts than rears but over all in aero distribution this is more of similar to tracks where its aero dependent on rear particularly with current aero set the cars will be launching out of the long right hand corner leading to back straight with crazy speeds in one lap pace. and the High speed entry to chicane.

        2. @redbullf1 China is varied after all it’s a tilkedrome, it’s a bit of everything. One thing that China has that Melbourne didn’t is aero dependant corners, turn 1 turns 5 and 6 and the one before the big straight.

          I think Merc were really good on s1 because of Lewis and the chassis is incredibly agile, the change of direction was electric there, as last year’s car this Merc looks to have phenomenal mechanical grip. I don’t think Ferrari will push Mercedes or Redbull but at the moment I think Ferrari is more than favourite in China.

          1. Mercedes incredibly agile chassis??? A lorry has a shorter wheelbase…

      5. Haas was 1 tenth and a half quicker than both Williams and SFI at Sector 1, but like previous years, the works Mercedes always hide something from customers teams.

    2. MrF1GuyV12POWAHHH (@)
      1st April 2017, 0:00

      Ferrari have done a great job with their PU when you consider where they were in 2014, but better than Mercedes is a bit optimistic.

      1. Yes absolutely right !

        IF you notice the first couple of laps between Hamilton and Vettel , Hamilton was struggling with the tyres still he was able to pull away from the Ferrari by 0.2secs per lap. At the start Vettel was within DRS range around 0.6secs but this grew to 1.4 secs by lap 3 or 4.

        1. That’s standard procedure in dirty air rather than pulling away. Hamilton struggled with overheating after he pushed but unable to increase the gap whilst Vettel managing his tires in the dirty air. In the past few years Merc after first lap over Non Merc car is around 2-3 sec and that lead keep on increasing lap after lap but it just didn’t in Australia and forced them to push more than normal. I think there is apart from overheating there is nothing wrong with tires and Merc its just that they got panicked by watching some one so close and sitting in right behind their gearbox despite using the Hammer time Mode after lap 8 in similar tire life.
          About PU i doubt the Ferrari is ahead i doubt they are equal. Merc still have advantage in using higher power modes mainly in Q. The China and Bahrain is real test for progress of Ferrari PU department, if they are able to match the Mercs in S3 of China then we can get some answers but for now the Merc is still leader in PU department.

          1. Let’s see what happens in China! Vettel won the race in the pits because LH got caught behind MV! Let’s not get carried away! Ferrari is a much better car than last year because of the rules package but bet your paycheck Mercedes will respond and the universe will be right again!

            1. Actually this is more of a challenge to Merc than Ferrari, they are the one to prove that this is just luck they are still way too ahead and they have to respond very hard if they see again a red car splitting the mercs and /or staying close despite them running in free air and max race mode but unable to pull a gap like previous years then the real fun starts.

    3. I think it’s a bit early for that. But the idea it could even be a serious question is great for the sport and hopefully means better racing at the front.

      But I fear that the new aero rules have ruined the chance for overtaking so it will come down to starts and strategy from the teams rather than watching great drivers duel for the win.

    4. Maybe certain teams are no longer able to exploit a fuel flow limit loophole that has now been closed. The existing combustion technology appears to be able to mimic a diesel engine with electronically timed direct injection at pressures the can atomise lubricating or hydraulic oils which bypass the FIA flow controls. Oil contains more energy per kilogram than petrol. Of course there is limited oil that can be carried without incurring lap time weight induced penalties but not much is needed for one lap qualifying or overtake modes.
      This may explain why race engineers appear to get edgy when drivers use higher power modes without direct permission and managed from the pit wall.
      Drivers themselves would never be in the know as to what exactly provides the performance boost in various modes and they certainly wouldn’t be aware if oil was being used and therefore the consequences should the ‘oil mode’ be used for too long.
      Only a select few within the team would ever know about the oil burn mode and the rest would be told that ‘mode x’ can only be used for limited time because of a reliability concern other than running out of oil in one of the system tanks.

      1. While I hate to think Mercedes is cheating, it is possible to add oil as a secondary combustible (anywhere from turbo-compressor to combustion chamber design would give an ICE boost. (as we do in tractor pulling, in part to increase performance while keeping the temperatures safe). Adding Coolant is also an option, since this increases thermal efficiency: lower compression temperatures AND higher average compression pressure. Both would explain the “sudden” Engine failure Lewis had, last year, if he took a gamble with his engine setting, or some small defect kept the qualifying system active.

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