While Ferrari may not have maximised the advantage of the SF90, the consensus in the paddock and among serious pundits is that the Reds have found something that has given them 40 horsepower extra from their power unit package.
Auto Motor und Sport claim that Ferrari have broken through the 1000 horsepower barrier but are loathed to admit it. The report refers to the “Ferrari miracle engine” which is exclusive to the works team and not an option for their customer teams Haas and Alfa Romeo just yet.
Full dialled up Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel found four tenths over Mercedes on the straightaways at Sakhir, prompting Mercedes chief Toto Wolff to admit, “No one else can keep up.”
“Under these circumstances, it will be hard to beat them. Mercedes cannot regain enough time in the corners to compensate for Ferrari chassis on the straights. In Bahrain, the Silver Arrows recouped only a tenth of a second or so in the corners,” explained Wolff.
Mercedes chief engineer Andrew Shovlin added, “We are watching the phenomenon on straights with and without DRS, so it has little to do with the downforce setup.”
Down the pitlane, Red Bull are wondering out aloud if Ferrari are bending the rules as they allegedly were with the ‘oil burning‘ saga last year. Once the loophole was shut by the FIA, their performance dipped dramatically to the point that it may have cost the Scuderia the title.
Red Bull technical boss Adrian Newey pointed out in the report, “The Ferrari engine suddenly has the same bang as it had last year when they were faster than us in the acceleration phase. However, the top speed was pretty much the same but now they are faster on the straights from start to finish.”
“With us, the speed on the straight plateaus at a certain point, because the MGU-K no longer delivers power. Ferrari is always on. The MGU-K just does not turn off. It looks like they have advantages from the combustion engine and the electric power.”
“We actually thought the FIA had stuffed all the final holes in the engine rules,” concluded Newey whose comments, by intent or not, are likely to ignite conspiracy theories.
Also adding ‘fuel to the fire’ was Red Bull chief Christian Horner who commented, “The fuel Ferrari use smells like grapefruit juice.”
Big Question: Is the FIA capable of keeping F1 cheating in check?