Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Analysis: Have Ferrari got slower since the FIA’s technical directive on power units?

2019 F1 season

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Has the FIA’s technical directive on power units clipped Ferrari’s wings? Speed trap data from the season so far indicates it has.

The gap between the fastest and slowest cars in the speed track at the Circuit of the Americas is the closest it’s been all year. Typically, the slowest car has been almost 10kph down on the quickest through the speed trap. At COTA that spread is just 5.6kph, the lowest of the season so far, matching what was seen at Singapore – a track which is far less power-sensitive.

Of course track configuration, car set-up and even wind conditions at the track will play a role in this. But it’s striking that only one team – Ferrari – is slower through the speed trap this weekend relative to its performance earlier in the season.

Aside from Ferrari, every other team is more than 1kph closer to the top speed at COTA than they have been over the previous 18 races. Some are more than 5kph quicker. Only Ferrari are slower:

The raw data for the season so far illustrates in detail the change that has happened from race to race (including Hockenheim, which is something of an outlier, likely due to the different set-ups teams used in anticipation of wet weather):

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Taking just the best results for each engine brand, it’s clear to see Ferrari have consistently been the top performing engine this year. And that at COTA, the difference between the four different engine brands is the closest it’s been all season:

Lewis Hamilton is convinced Ferrari are not as quick in a straight line this weekend. “Obviously today I think they’ve lost a bit of power,” he said.

Whether that is actually the case will become more clear over the coming races. But the early indication is the FIA’s directive does appear to have led to a slight reduction in Ferrari’s top speed, and has made the field closer in this respect than it has all year.

That is significant on a weekend when Ferrari’s run of six consecutive pole positions ended by just 12 thousandths of a second.

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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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29 comments on “Analysis: Have Ferrari got slower since the FIA’s technical directive on power units?”

  1. How’s the apex speeds? Seems the obvious answer is they can put on more df with ok balance. But they are also smoking less on the grid and there was the fuel flow issue.

    1. @dmw
      According to AMuS, they gained less time on the straights compared to Friday (0.6 on FRI and 0.35 on SAT), but also reduced the deficit in the low-speed-corners.

      https://www.auto-motor-und-sport.de/formel-1/ferrari-red-bull-gp-usa-2019-qualifying/

      Seems more like a set up thing to me, than a genuine impact on power/top speed, but time will tell.

  2. Without jumping to conclusions I would say this all is very intriguing… let’s see what happens during the race and in the next races.

    1. @dallein

      Ferrari looking slow already

    2. Update after the race: … from my home far away from US it looked pretty clear…

      Though, let’s see how it goes next race…

  3. Any chance of a link to these FIA directives?

  4. Difficult to tell. Maybe Ferrari just put on more downforce to keep the tyres in better shape during the race.
    One ingredient of their high top speed this season has been their low drag.
    The more drag your car creates, the lower your top speed gets.
    Or they turned the engines down a bit after Charles’ issues during FP3. Who knows?!
    If the same pattern reappears in Interlagos, then you can say that it has affected them.

    1. Higgins Shepherd
      3rd November 2019, 21:01

      I agree. You can’t really say on one race. Especially as Charles is using an old engine. Their poor performance in the race seemed to be about traction and grip – their car was all over the place in the corners. Only when Charles put the soft tyres on did the car seem to work properly.

  5. Kudos to Red Bull for finally working out what Ferrari were up to (allegedly etc.). Mercedes owe them a big thanks.

    1. Thats assuming they are right or Merc hadn’t already thought of that.

    2. how do we explain the “has been” and “cracker under pressure” getting good again?

      1. Is that supposed to be intelligible?

        1. @david-br

          Nope. I’m quoting id iots

          1. ‘cracker under pressure’

            My mistake

  6. Red Bull knew exactly what happened. Don’t forget the teams have GPS speed data from all cars. They saw an unusual gain at the straights that could not be explained from set-up choices. A sudden leap in performance, activated by some kind of extra signal over a cable that disturbed the fuel flow sensor. That way Ferrari could use more fuel at specific times.

    Clever use of electrical disturbances that influence the fuel sensor, but not legal now. Ferarri has to lead the cable away from the sensor now, with immediate effect like it seems.

  7. Cageman

    Genuis!

    Next season just give the two WC to merc and Lewis then have a complete free-for-all to entertain the fans until 2021.
    Woeful that we’ve had to wait until 2021 to make drastic changes.
    Loads of empty seats again for Texas qually day.

    1. Sigh. You do know they have a complete sell out for today at cota? Also what does this have to do with Mercedes? Are you saying Ferrari should be allowed to cheat as long as Mercedes get beat?

      1. Ignore big joke, their contributions are always laughable

        1. Martin

          It’s my OP so he’s welcome to comment.
          The best bit is you are both are clueless to what I was saying.

          I say let all teams bend the rules next season, until at last, we have some positive action to make the racing closer in 2021.
          I wouldn’t expect the LH fan club to agree. So just disagree.

          1. Yeah, I reckon we should just let teams cheat all they like. I mean is that not the purpose of sport? We do not want to see fair racing and fair competition, we want to see cheats prosper! While we are at it lets just allow drug cheats in the Olympics…

            Or we could enforce the rules that are there to create a fair competition.

            This is nothing to do with being a Lewis Fan or not it is to do with being a fan of sport!!!!

      2. Adam

        No and NO.

        I’m saying let them all cheat next season to

        entertain the fans until 2021.

  8. seems not to be the case byt usual bias is still on after the directive. I feel Ferrari have tried something different this weekend, their car looks much more understeer maybe fearful for the tyre deg.

  9. Well before the miracle speed came they were a minute behind in Hungary. And now there again a minute behind.

    Let’s see in Brazil

  10. Nice to see the Ferrari back to normal now the cheating has stopped

  11. Ferrari’s fastest driver had an old spec well used engine…….

    1. Maybe they had to put the old spec engine in because it didn’t have the ‘magic upgrade’ that may have been outlawed by the recent technical directive.

  12. Top teams know what is possible with an PU and not. So they knew Ferrari must be using a trick to get their speed on the straights, but needed time to figure it out. In the end RB didn’t want Ferrari to be disqualified for the whole season so they just asked FIA if RB can use such a trick. The answer was NO. In this way the gave Ferrari an opportunity to remove their “trick”. Now let us wait 2 more races.

  13. These numbers don’t prove anything and are just pure speculation… I know you have to be controversial to sell these days… but really guys? You come to the point where you accuse the legendary Scuderia Ferrari of cheating because of some charts you can interpret anyway is convenient to you? really this journalism nowadays? giving weight to unfundamented rumours.. ok

  14. This seems like just a ploy to stir up some controversy. Looking at the data presented, why didn’t anyone say anything in Russia? It’s a very simple explanation: Ferrari put on more down force between Friday and Saturday which decreased their straight line speed. Let’s also not forget the track characteristics. The longest straight (which is where I assume the speed was measured) is situated right between two very slow corners, almost hairpins. The Merc and Redbull are both quicker in the corners than the Ferrari and thus are able to take turn 11 faster and thus start the straight with better speed. This is similar to Russia, which also shows a pattern of top-speed upset between the teams. in Japan, the entrance to the longest “straight” (the area between spoon and the chicane) is preceded by a medium/high speed corner, which allows the Ferrari to be closer to the Merc and Redbull’s starting speed.

    This is all a bunch of hooplah with no substance.

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