Ferrari’s performance in Istanbul raised the Scuderia’s spirits, not so much for Charles Leclerc’s fourth place finish, but for the excellent state of form expressed by the car in relation to the performance of the previous races. The single-seater number 16 of the Monegasque was in fact constantly in the vicinity of Mercedes and Red Bull leading the race, before the diversification of strategies opened the gap in the final. Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, recovered from the penultimate place on the starting grid to eighth place under the checkered flag, making numerous overtakes in a race in which no one was able to enjoy the help of the DRS.
Overall, the performance of the Red in Turkey was the result of a well-balanced car which benefited from environmental conditions and asphalt useful to limit the difficulties of the SF21. The high grip of the road surface and the scarce water present on the track on Sunday made it easier for the intermediate tires to warm up, an aspect in which the Ferrari 2021 has often highlighted shortcomings. In addition to the climatic conditions and the goodness of the trim work carried out in Istanbul, the top management of the Scuderia, however, also attributed the merits of performance to the new hybrid system of the power unit which anticipates some key concepts of the 2022 single-seater.
The new specification was first introduced in Sochi on Charles Leclerc’s car, and was then also installed on Carlos Sainz’s car in Turkey. The innovations concern only the hybrid part of the power unit, in particular the battery pack and the two electric motor generators MGU-K and MGU-H, while the combustion engine remained in the previous specification. The introduction to the current season of the solutions that will be implemented on the 2022 car is dictated by the desire of the Maranello team to validate the new power unit, before these are frozen with the advent of the new regulations: “Obviously it is clear to us that we need to accumulate kilometers on the track and experience before 2022, when the power units will be frozen”, said the Team Principal Mattia Binotto. “For us this was the key and why we brought the new specification.”
The number one of the team then spent a brief reflection on the contribution of the new specification highlighted in the Turkish Grand Prix: “It is giving us a small advantage. I don’t want to quantify it in lap time because it depends on the track. It’s not just about the heat engine, it’s about energy recovery, it’s a bit more complex. Certainly, however, we are seeing some advantages. If we look at Charles’ qualification [a Istanbul], printed the fourth time. Looking behind him, the others were very close and I’m pretty sure that without the new spec we would have lost a couple of places “. Considering that in qualifying Leclerc preceded Pierre Gasly by 61 thousandths and Fernando Alonso by 212 thousandths, Mattia Binotto therefore estimates an advantage of the new hybrid system roughly around 2 tenths of a second per lap at Istanbul Park.
The clues to the benefits of the updated power unit do not lie in the straight-line top speed rankings, in which Leclerc’s Rossa soared both in qualifying and in the race. The speed measurements were in fact influenced by the wakes and above all by an aerodynamic configuration that was particularly low for the Monegasque, as evidenced by the spoon-shaped rear wing. Furthermore, the power unit probably did not enjoy an increase in the maximum power released by the hybrid part, since the MGU-K, the electric motogenerator connected to the rear wheels, is limited by regulation to a maximum power of 120 kW. The MGU-H, on the other hand, does not deliver power to the wheels, but helps the turbocharger to compress the air in the combustion chamber, where the maximum pressure is limited by the structural integrity of the thermal engine.
As pointed out by Mattia Binotto, the main advantage lies instead in the better efficiency of the hybrid part. On the one hand, in fact, the new battery manufacturing technology allows better recharging under braking by exploiting the kinetic energy regenerated by the MGU-K and the residual thermal energy in the exhaust gases converted by the MGU-H. On the other hand, efforts were made at Maranello to reduce energy dissipation both in traction and in braking. In this regard, the rumor has recently circulated that Ferrari has gone from a 400 V battery to an 800 V battery. The voltage increase would have allowed the transfer of the same electrical power levels from one component of the power unit to another with a lower current intensity, thus reducing energy dissipation. The combined result of the two aspects is a greater availability of energy, allowing the two electric motors to be powered for a longer period of time than in the past.
It is therefore understood that the main advantage was not an increase in the maximum electrical power, how much the extension of the time intervals in which the maximum power of the hybrid is available, resulting in a greater average power on the lap. In addition to the energy aspect, a lot of work has also been done in Maranello on the thermal management of the various components of the hybrid part, so as to extend the use of electric motors in contexts where in the past the limit was not represented by energy availability, but by reliability. and high temperatures.
Further advantages of the renewed hybrid will be appreciable starting from 2022. As reported in recent weeks by Alberto Antonini on the pages of FormulaPassion.it, the new MGU-K and MGU-H have been downsized and designed to require less heat dissipation by the cooling system. This will allow you to design smaller radiators, thus leading to the design of more compact sides to the advantage of external aerodynamics. Precisely this aspect will be one of the technical topics of comparison on the new single-seaters, since the next regulations will allow the opening of large cooling grids in the upper part of the bellies in the area of the bonnet, in a position considerably behind the vents that are currently being opened. to the sides of the passenger compartment. The teams will therefore be called upon to seek the optimal compromise between a design of the sides hollowed down and a rounder one, in order to make the most of the new grids and to be able to minimize the rear vent of the bonnet for hot air.
The only yardstick about the cooling of the new hybrid system on the SF21 remains the specification of the bonnet used from race to race. In Sochi and Istanbul, the Reds raced with the narrower version, but the rain that characterized the last two events prevents us from establishing whether this choice is the daughter of a hybrid less prone to overheating or rather whether it is due solely to cooler ambient temperatures . The real proof of this will be offered by the triptych of races in the Middle East and even earlier in Mexico City, where altitude always proves to be a challenge on the cooling front.