Ferrari have done its utmost to close the gap to field-leading Mercedes over the winter, but the Italian carmaker has to hold its weapons back as it suffers from different issues related to the power unit.
As F1technical reported earlier Ferrari reworked its power unit totally for this season. Serious work has been completed in a bid to design a better packaging to help the aerodynamics of the car. Secondly, the turbo of the car was redesigned with the help of the American-based company Honeywell to get bigger boost.
The turbo woes of Ferrari were already rumoured over the winter but soon turned out to be a real reliability problem as it caused Kimi Räikkönen's failure to finish at the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago. Ferrari subsequently had to change the component for the second race, although they were lucky the ICE was not damaged in the resulting fire.
The problem seems to be a more serious issue than a one-off. Insiders suggest that the turbo can’t feed the MGU-H sufficiently. It means that the MGU-H switches to load modus in the second part of longer straights. That theory is based also on the fact that Ferrari can reach a sensible top-speed by the middle point of longer straights, but after that it cannot increase the top speed significantly. That was also realized by Ferrari's biggest rival Mercedes which carried out throughout analysis with its GPS data. The rival squad came to the conclusion that Ferrari has to hold its power back.
The team wanted to remedy the issue with a software update. It introduced a new control electronics to both cars, but it didn’t solve the problem in the first practices at Bahrain.
Ferrari are trying to overcome the issue now with de-tuning its engines which can be worth 4-5 tenths in race trim as the power unit can work pretty much at its maximum over one single qualifying lap. Technical experts, however, warn that Ferrari’s problem may not be solved so easily as tackling of turbo issues can take much longer time.