All through the middle part of the season, Ferrari had the superior package, or at least that is what it seemed, when they had a significant advantage over Mercedes, especially on the straights.
Efficient aerodynamics and clever power management meant that Ferrari were able to extract more from their car as compared to its competitors.
The secret of course wasn’t revealed, but a lot of competitors had raised questions about this sudden rise in Ferrari power. The FIA did look into it, but nothing illegal was found and Ferrari carried on its on paper dominance.
Rain and Vettel’s mistake in Germany meant that Mercedes weren’t quite affected by the increase in Ferrari pace and performance.
According to AMuS, paddock rumours suggested that, “Ferrari cools down the fuel in the injectors, others said that oil from the cooling circuit of the batteries is being introduced into the combustion process.”.
The investigation carried out by FIA revealed that the energy output of the battery was always within 4 megajoules and that the output of the MGU-K power was within 120 kilowatts.
However, the advantage has largely disappeared, especially during the recent weekend in Sochi.
GPS data from Singapore & Sochi shows Ferrari doesn’t deploy that exceptional power “boost” on the straights anymore. According to our information FIA fitted a 2nd sensor to monitor battery energy output. Is there a connection?
— Tobi Grüner 🏁 (@tgruener) October 2, 2018
In Singapore too, Ferrari kind of struggled with qualifying and race pace, but Sochi was an eye opener, as Hamilton was easily able to fend off Vettel at turn 1 on lap 1. And later when Vettel had taken Hamilton’s track position after coming from the pits, Hamilton was easily able to overtake the Ferrari on the 90 degree right hander.
“We clearly see that in our GPS measurements,” said Abiteboul.
“They are still slightly superior to the engine.” said Wolff.
Reports in AMuS state that FIA have installed a second sensor, one that monitors energy flow. Ferrari have been coupling two batteries and thus such a sensor was needed.
Now, speculation suggests that this new second sensor could be a reason for the drop in pace.