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THE REAL REASON FERRARI WERE SO SLOW IN 2020

It has been a difficult time for Ferrari recently, finishing well down the field in sixth in the 2020 Constructor Standings; a harsh fall following on from three consecutive second place finishes between 2017 and 2019. They never really looked likely to win any of those titles, but at least they were very competitive and had a very fast car. This was especially evident in 2019 when Charles Leclerc was able to secure seven pole positions and four fastest laps during the season. 

However, that performance level fell off a cliff as they entered the 2020 season and initially there was no real explanation as to why. Leclerc did his best to wrestle the car around every circuit and he clearly relished the challenge, easily outperforming the lackluster Vettel, who finished on a total of 33 points in 13th place. Leclerc himself finished on a better total of 98 points in eighth place, but you would hardly say that was acceptable for Ferrari - and I am sure the army of Tifosi were not impressed. Overall, it was an astonishingly poor return for arguably the most prestigious team on the grid with a four-time world champion in one seat and one of the most exciting up and coming young drivers in the other. So what was behind this alarming change in fortune?

"THE FIA AND SCUDERIA FERRARI HAVE AGREED TO A NUMBER OF TECHNICAL COMMITMENTS THAT WILL IMPROVE THE MONITORING OF ALL FORMULA1 POWER UNITS"

As ever, the FORMULA 1 gossip columns were filled with a multitude of rumours as to why the Ferrari performance dropped so visibly in 2020. Most eyebrow raising of all was one rumour that suggested the FIA had discovered Ferrari were being overly creative with their interpretations of the technical regulations that define the fuel delivery to the power unit, which came to light during an investigation into Ferrari’s operations in 2019. Further rumours suggested that the governing body and Ferrari had come to a ‘gentlemen's agreement’, negating the need for any further action which would have surely resulted in a fine or penalty points - a rumour that only furthered the oft-peddled claim of the close relationship between the FIA and Ferrari, always to the detriment of other teams.

 

The official statement from the FIA upon concluding the investigation into Ferrari in 2019 announced: “After thorough technical investigations, it has concluded its analysis of the operation of the Scuderia Ferrari FORMULA1 power unit and reached a settlement with the team.” The statement suggests that the FIA had not found any irregularities with the Ferrari power unit and that it fully complied with the technical regulations. The FIA went on to say “The FIA and Scuderia Ferrari have agreed to a number of technical commitments that will improve the monitoring of all FORMULA 1 power units for forthcoming championship seasons,” and then explained that the reason for not making the outcome fully public was “to avoid the negative consequences that a long litigation would entail,” suggesting that such a legal battle would have deep reaching consequences for FORMULA1.

THE POSSIBILITY OF FERRARI USING A 'CONTROLLED OIL LEAK INTO THE POWER UNIT INTERCOOLER TO GAIN A HUGE BOOST IN PERFORMANCE'

However, this did little to placate the other teams who quickly objected to the details of the agreement not being disclosed by either the FIA or Ferrari. All non-Ferrari powered teams - namely McLaren, Mercedes, Racing Point, Red Bull, Renault, Alpha Tauri and Williams - issued a joint communication saying they were ‘surprised and shocked’ by the outcome of the investigation which the FIA chose not to make public. 

 

Subsequently, in March 2021, some further interesting details were revealed by Autosport in a YouTube video, suggesting the allegations centred around the possibility of Ferrari using a ‘controlled oil leak into the power unit intercooler to gain a huge boost in performance.’ The race to develop this advanced method of additional horsepower started right at the beginning of the introduction of the hybrid power unit, an era that began in 2014 when FORMULA 1 moved away from fully ICE (internal combustion engine) powered cars to a hybrid of ICE and electrical power stored in a battery. Teams started to develop oil compositions as a way of injecting additional horsepower to combat the drop in performance brought about by the hybrid engine. The new allegations suggest that Ferrari took this one step too far, which triggered the rule change at the end of 2019. Whether this was the cause of, or at least a contributory factor to the dismal following season for Ferrari, we will never know. We will leave you to draw your own conclusion on that.

ALL WE ASK OF ALL F1 TEAMS AND THE FIA IS TO ACT RESPONSIBLY... TO PROTECT THE REPUTATION OF THE SPORT

I am not sure we will ever reach a satisfactory conclusion to this matter and all we ask of all FORMULA 1 teams and the FIA is to act responsibly within the rules and regulations to protect the reputation of the sport and maintain the trust of its many fans.

 

One thing that we can be sure of is Ferrari will have a renewed enthusiasm to fight their way to the front of the grid with the refreshed driver line-up of Leclerc and the newly acquired Carlos Sainz, an exciting driver pairing on paper. They have got off to a solid start to the 2021 season and we are excited to see how the season pans out for the Scuderia Ferrari.