Ferrari admits it took “some risks” in unveiling its upgraded Formula 1 engine for the remaining races, but is already noticing more performance being extracted from its 2021 car.
Ahead of an engine freeze coming into force next year, Ferrari made the decision to wait on introducing an updated power unit until the second half of the season.
The call to hold fire on running its engine upgrades allowed the Italian outfit to maximise its development time, before debuting the new components at the Russian Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc ran the improved power unit in Sochi, with team-mate Carlos Sainz having the upgraded engine fitted in Turkey last weekend, recovering from last to finish in eighth place.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said the main factor behind introducing the new power unit was to gain a greater understanding of the upgrades, but was clear there were risks involved running as early as Russia.
“When we introduced it in Sochi, the first objective was to try to increase our experience in the view of 2022,” explained Binotto, as quoted by Motorsport.com. “That’s why we introduced it as soon as possible, trying to rush it, taking some risks as well, but it’s all a risk assessment.
“Obviously for us it’s clear to get mileage on-track and do our own experience before 2022 where the power units will be frozen. For us, that was the key and the reason of that.”
Ferrari’s performance upswing in Istanbul is a major boost in its fight with McLaren for third place in the constructors’ championship, with just 7.5 points separating both teams heading into the final six races.
Binotto remained tight-lipped on how much lap time Ferrari was gaining from the new engine, but insisted the added power had given it an advantage.
“It is giving us a small advantage, but I don’t want to quantify it on lap time because it is track dependent,” Binotto said. “It’s not only pure ICE power, it’s energy recovery, so it’s a bit complex. But certainly it’s giving us an advantage.
“If I look as well at qualifying with Charles, he had the fourth best lap time, and if I look behind him, it was very close. I’m pretty sure that a couple of positions would have been lost without that specification.”