Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Monaco, 2018

FIA adding more monitoring to Ferrari’s power unit for next race

2018 Monaco Grand Prix

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The FIA says it is satisfied Ferrari’s F1 power unit complies with the rules but confirmed it will add further systems to monitor it more closely from the next race.

Race director Charlie Whiting said the team proved to the FIA their power unit is compliant after monitoring it during practice on Thursday in Monaco. However the method used to check it was complicated and the FIA wants a simpler system in place for the Canadian Grand Prix.

“Their duty is to satisfy us that the car complies,” said Whiting after Sunday’s race. “But they were finding it hard to satisfy us.

“By the time we got to here, looking at data [and] software changes that had been implemented, it [became] clearer exactly where we were and after the first day of running we were then able to say we’re happy and we understand it now.”

Ferrari demonstrated the legality of its design “via a complex routine” Whiting explained. “But we don’t want to have to go through that all the time in order to make sure so we would rather additional measurements were made.”

The FIA will add “additional monitoring for Canada”, he said, and further sensors could be added to improve monitoring next year. “But what we’ll have for Canada will be a better system which will help us get things done much quicker than we had to. It’s taken us a couple of races to get to the bottom of it.”

The dispute over the legality of Ferrari’s power unit concerns the design of its battery. The new monitoring system will allow the FIA to check “exactly what the difference between the two halves of the battery are,” said Whiting.

“That’s the crux of the matter because other systems treat their battery as one. [With] Ferrari, it’s one battery but they treat it as two.”

The FIA began looking into Ferrari’s battery after a query was raised by Mercedes’ technical director James Allison, following the arrival of engine designer Lorenzo Sassi who joined the team from Ferrari earlier this year. Allison approached Whiting about the Ferrari design before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“It was wrong to say he was a whistleblower or something like that,” said Whiting. “He just, as many engineers do, come up to us and said ‘this guy started working for us, he tells us this team might be doing that’.”

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Whiting said it is “routine” for engineers to make such enquiries, “especially when they’ve had staff members come from another team.”

“Don’t forget Lorenzo, his information is at least eight months old, which in Formula One terms I think is quite old,” Whiting added.

Mercedes’ executive director Toto Wolff said it was “completely normal modus operandi that teams enquire with the FIA about certain legality topics.”

“The FIA has made a public statement – Jean and Charlie – about the situation and as they are the governing body, they are perfectly entitled to do so,” Wolff added.

“No judgement has been made on anything. No protest has been launched. No enquiry has been done. Just the press statement from the FIA. And we trust them.”

However Whiting said it was “completely incorrect to say nothing was investigated” by the FIA. He also insisted Ferrari had co-operated with the FIA’s enquiry. “They’ve been very helpful the whole way,” he said.

“It’s just been very detailed and painstaking work to try and get to the bottom of exactly how their system works and hence give us the comfort that we need.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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  • 32 comments on “FIA adding more monitoring to Ferrari’s power unit for next race”

    1. Will be interesting to see how well they go in Canada. If they aren’t quite as quick as we would expect it could cast doubt on just how legal their system was operating before the monitoring.

      It’s nice to have some technical intrigue occasionally!

      1. @tdm +1 to this. Monaco isn’t exactly the best place to check if a team is using more power than allowed, so although the FIA have said they’re now satisfied, it’s good they’re extending the monitoring to a circuit where power matters.

        “It was wrong to say he was a whistleblower or something like that,” said Whiting. “He just, as many engineers do, come up to us and said ‘this guy started working for us, he tells us this team might be doing that’.”

        Not sure why Charlie’s worried about the semantics of this. Whistleblower, sneak, competitor advantage, call it what you want, it’s not afoul of the rules, IIRC. Everyone does this to get a leg up. It’s not without justification that F1 is called a shark tank.

    2. Has the garage smoke suddenly stopped? ;)

      You know what they say…no smoke without a potentially dubious power unit arrangement….


      1. It’s not about the smoke it’s about energy stored and the energy drawn from the battery within one lap. It’s limited by the rules. Consequently, Merc guys noticed that Ferrari’s use of electrical energy is better than they expected. Funny, isn’t it!? However, there is a legal way of doing it: you can route the electrical energy directly from MGU-H while harvesting to MGU-K. It’s worth to mention that there is no limit to harvested energy by MGU-H. You can harvest as much energy as you like. Ferrari guys solved the problem of simultaneous energy harvesting and deploying it by having two battery blocks. The one block of battery is charged by MGU-H while harvesting and the another is feeding MGU-K. This creates a problem for FIA to trace how much energy they recover within one lap. There is no reason in my mind to believe they’ve built an illegal system. They’ve found a better way to exploit the energy harvested by MGU-H. Obviously, it made Merc guys ‘a little bit’ nervous.

        1. I believe the MGU-H can only feed unlimited energy straight to the MGU-K but they can still only store 4Kj to the battery pack each lap. So the H is really about topping up the battery and then streaming the “spare” energy directly to the K.

          It was thought farrari were simply bypassing the energy flow sensor from the ES and therefore deploying more to the K from the ES not from the H to the K as that is a fully legal practice

        2. Boomerang, from what I have seen in the press elsewhere, the allegation was that Ferrari had found a way to bypass the FIA’s sensor that would allow them to exceed the maximum power limit on the hybrid system for a short period of time (put at an additional 20bhp) that was thought to be linked to their engine qualifying modes.

          Now, if the FIA had found that to be the case, then what they would be doing would be illegal as they would be exceeding the maximum permissible power output of the hybrid system (the question of energy flowing between the MGU-K and MGU-H is one that would be legal, as you note, but that wasn’t the reason for the investigation in the first place). As it is, what the FIA have said is that they have not found any clear evidence that Ferrari have been doing that.

          1. Thanks mate for additional info. However, it’s easy to measure power output of an e-motor. What runs MGU-K is what actually counts. Electrical power is equal to U*I*cosϕ ( voltage[Volts] ) * ( current[Amperes] ) * cosϕ when it comes to electrical motor. They have to measure voltage and current within a period of one lap to see if the energy limits are exceeded. cosϕ depends on electro motor characteristics and they should know that from tech spec. That’s the crux of it. In my opinion whole fuss is made only to unveil how Ferrari operates their auxiliaries within PU system. Now everyone knows. Two battery blocks…

        3. it wasn’t “the Mercedes guys”, it was James Allison who used to work for Ferrari and is now at Mercedes.

          1. No @velocityboy the article even says Allison inquired due to another Ferrari engineer that had moved to the team recently. Allison left the team back in 2016, so he would unlikely have any clue of the most current Ferrari happenings since his insight would be more than two years old.

            However, since he’s the lead technical director (replaced Lowe) he is the one in charge of bringing up technical speculation and reviews. Similar to Newey or Lowe or James Key.

            1. @magillagorilla I got the info from this article

            2. @velocityboy Good for you this, article written by this blog has informed us that a more recently transferred Ferrari engineer was the reason for the inquiry. They brought it up to the technical director (Allison) and then they brought it up to Charlie/FIA. The ESPN article tries to spin the fact that Allison who last worked for Ferrari early in 2016 (before his wife died) was some how a relevant fact, it wasn’t.

              Also if you looked closer, you’d see that this article came after the end of the GP, while the one you linked was prior. It doesn’t even talk about Canada and the additional monitoring. Also again as I stated the Ferrari engineer now Merc Engineer that brought this up in the first place was…Lorenzo Sassi.

        4. I’m confused. How can it be an advantage to use fuel (via the turbo/MGU-H) to power the car while using more fuel, further downstream at the electrical drive motor (via the MGU-K), at the same time. Sounds like a perpetual motion machine.

    3. So, FIA have finally realized what the fans have been screaming out for last 5 years.. That the engines are so complex that the entity that framed its design and rules itself don’t understand it.

      1. ColdFly (@)
        28th May 2018, 8:54

        Most fans don’t have a problem with the complexity. A big group though misses the sound of yesteryears.
        And even a simple combustion engine will leave grey areas in the rule book; oil burning!

    4. No smoke without fire? Ferrari’s smoking engine on start up? Hmm? Oil smoke?
      The battery part is just another smoke screen to cover up the real reason for their “party mode”.
      Mercedes sorted out their “party mode” ages ago.
      Now sour grapes that Ferrari have caught up in that department?

    5. “Their duty is to satisfy us that the car complies,” said Whiting after Sunday’s race. “But they were finding it hard to satisfy us.”

      This makes no sense, how can they have difficulties explaining how THEIR system works? They designed it.

      And even if Sassi’ information is 8 months old, makes no sense either, when you consider he was their head of powertrain and these ideas were probably being discussed & mock tested whilst he was there. This seems like Charlie is out to try and discredit Sassi, so as to try and save face.

      1. But Charlie isn’t saying Ferrari have difficulties explaining how the system works. They’re having difficulties convincing the FIA that their system works in a legal manner because it is rather complex to explain, so they’re adding additional measurements.

        1. No that’s not what he said..

          “The FIA duly opened an investigation in to the matter and, despite suggesting that Ferrari had “difficulty” fully explaining the characteristics of its battery”

    6. “That’s the crux of the matter because other systems treat their battery as one. [With] Ferrari, it’s one battery but they treat it as two.”

      This uhh, is an interesting quote. How could you treat one battery as two? You have one battery, or two batteries… It really does sound like good old Ferrari are hiding a second battery inside what they say is one battery 🤣

      It sounds like the FIA will accept this as long as the total capacity is within regulations and they need to check each individual battery now to make sure?

      They should call a spade a spade though and say they are still investigating rather than this whole “we are satisfied” nonsense.

      1. @skipgamer
        I read somewhere that they used one battery for the engine related electrical energy and another battery for controlling all the electronics in the car (dashboard, lights, etc.) .

        It really does sound like good old Ferrari are hiding a second battery inside what they say is one battery


      2. Open up a battery, any battery … check how many cells it’s made of.
        It’s entirely possible to split those to operate like two batteries while being inside the same battery casing, having the same power, etc.

        1. Maybe Ferrari’s hack of the rule book stems from the writers overlooking the etymology and not ruling out one battery potentially being as many batteries are there are “cells” in the battery. Sometimes the best cheats are in plain sight.

    7. no one knows what is going on in any of the f1 engines combustion engines, ie can they do 2 and 4 stroke? can they run without spark plugs? how high is their compression ratio? is the compression ratio set like normal engines or are they now using variable compression ratios? are the turbo chargers electric? where are the turbos exactly positioned, what kind of trick oil burning and cooling are EACH of the 4 manufacturers using? what alloys are being used in the engine parts? turbo parts? what differentiates the fuel suppliers – how is the fuel different between suppliers (all we know is they all have to be 91 octane unleaded. there is a lot of work going on there that is hidden from f1 fans. all we see is the race, and some blue smoke from Mercedes cars and some white smoke on startup from Ferrari and then allegations, with media exaggeration and fans unfairly straight away shouting “cheating”. From what we DO know, its that all 4 engine manufacturers are within the rules as of today, and that clarifications come up now and then. how is Mercedes achieving its claimed 50% thermal efficiency? they wont tell us – but why brag about it?? do Ferrari also have that efficiency? is it just a marketing claim by Mercedes?? My take is it has been a costly stupid engine formula that has not attracted manufacturers, has made the power units costlier than ever,, has made the cars heavier and longer, which the drivers do not like. has made the cars sound worse than 2 liter touring cars. F1 is really frustrating at times, especially seeing each race more and more carbon fiber flaps appearing everywhere, especially since the FIA tried to get rid of that kind of ugly aero pieces for 2009 season onwards.

    8. Mercedes clearly believe that Ferrari are using this system to gain an advantage in qualifying so the fia test it on Thursday practice? That seems logical. I can’t blame mercedes for being suspicious Ferraris straight line speed in Bahrain & China was huge

    9. It feels like Charlie has no idea, they check Ferrari and they find them fine. A day(?) later they want to check them again.
      I will start wearing my Tifosi tinfoil hat from now on

    10. Ferrari are using two batteries, the FIA has attached their sensor to one of the batteries, which means Ferrari can use the other battery which had no sensor to bypass the FIA rules.

    11. Ferrari are a little shifty this season…

      – Suddenly the most powerful engine with the strongest party mode
      – Smoking in the garage
      – 2 batteries hidden inside one
      – Keep conveniently heading to the garage instead of parking on the grid after qualifying because they ‘forgot’

      1. Ferrari did not return to parc ferme after Q3? That would be a major story. Haven’t heard that.

        1. neuralfraud
          30th May 2018, 4:56

          Ol’ Seb was conveniently unavailable for interviews. Hmmm

    12. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      29th May 2018, 13:42

      Wow, Carlo Bianchissimo (aka Charlie Whiting) pointed the finger at Mercedes for the investigation and even named the 2 people (Sassi and Allison). You gotta love the guy!!!

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