Ferrari is using its competitive advantage to full effect, with its rivals still scratching their collective heads over alleged recent gains, which could stem from its twin battery system…
The famed Italian marque has been locked in a furious development war this year with archrival Mercedes, but Germany was a turning point, with Ferrari said to be half a second faster on the straights.
… fuelling rumours it had opened up more performance with its complex energy store, a twin battery system the squad has utilised since 2014.
And one that F1’s governing body, the FIA, had cleared after clarification was requested by the Silver Arrows in Spain – with the power unit key to performance in the hybrid era… including Vettel’s win in Belgium, where he took a new engine, turbo and MGU-H.
SOUNDBITE (English) SEBASTIAN VETTEL,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"In the last couple of years the importance of the power unit is there. So you need a strong engine. You need a good car and good aerodynamics. So it is really team effort trying to get the car to a good level. And then obviously you need to execute as well.”
The new power unit also used an upgraded fuel from Shell, which is said to have contributed 20 per cent of the total performance gain – the Dutch manufacturer experimenting with different things like additives.
Regardless, Ferrari’s competition knows that something has made a big difference to the Prancing Horse’s straightline speed.
“They have got a few trick things going on in the car so we have got to keep pushing,” Lewis Hamilton said.
And it’s an advantage that could still win Ferrari both championships – if it can keep the secret under wraps for at least four races…
…not only preventing it from being copied before the end of the year, but also for Vettel to get ahead in the title race, and stay there.
It’s a battle that’s only going to intensify over 2018’s final seven races, as the world championship goes down to the wire.