Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2018

Ferrari’s F1 engine now better than Mercedes’ – Horner

2018 F1 season

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Ferrari’s Formula 1 power unit is now more powerful than Mercedes’.

The world champions have set the standard for F1 engines since the current V6 hybrid turbo formula was introduced in 2014. While varying downforce levels makes it difficult to judge which teams has the best straight-line speed, Horner pointed to the performance of Ferrari’s engine customer teams as a sign of the progress they’ve made.

“I think it’s setting the benchmark now,” he told media including RaceFans when asked if Ferrari now has the best engine. “You can see with Haas and Sauber as well having made good gains.”

Red Bull were unable to keep the quicker Ferraris behind in the race, Horner pointed out.

“You could see how hard Max [Verstappen] was having to work to keep Kimi [Raikkonen] behind him. Their over-speed at the restart was insane.

“Max had to go around the outside of him again at turn seven, Luffield, to take the position back. It was a great move by him.

“If you look at the rear wings on the cars as well we’re running Spa levels of downforce and everybody else is running that bit more.

“I think in qualifying every single corner we were quicker than Sebastian [Vettel] but we just hose time down the straights.”

Ferrari, like Mercedes, also have the advantage of being able to extract more power from their engine for short bursts in qualifying and when overtaking, Horner added.

“You can see when they run their qualifying modes. We ran our qualifying modes. We ran our qualifying mode at the restart versus Kimi’s and you can see the difference.”

Lewis Hamilton pointed out early in the season that Ferrari’s straight-line speed has become one of their key strengths.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 50 comments on “Ferrari’s F1 engine now better than Mercedes’ – Horner”

    1. That is impressive from Ferrari. Nobody expected Mercedes to be overtaken on the PU front, as they had such an advantage at the start. Considering the change from 4 to 3 engines for this season, I expected most manufacturers to focus on improved reliability and efficiency rather than out-and-out power, but Ferrari seems to have achieved both. This seems like a very different Ferrari to the one from 2009-2016, who could barely develop a car throughout a year and wasn’t insistent on pushing boundaries like Red Bull was doing at the time. I feel like Ferrari has sort of copied Red Bull’s philosophy of pushing rules to the extremes and being the most controversial team (albeit the most successful one as a result).

      1. Engine wise, Ferrari was already on a par with Mercedes since last year. Ferrari have moved ahead now, more horsepower.

      2. Enginewise, Ferrari was already on a par with Mercedes since last year. Ferrari have now moved ahead. On all car fronts(engine, tyres , tactics etc) Ferrari are better.

      3. @mashiat: With the current PU regulations we can’t really know much about reliability until the last few races, and even then we cannot be sure. That in turn means that the levels of performance we see in the first races can be very misleading. PUs that have to last seven races mean that teams can detect reliability problems well before the PU blows up, and adapt by turning the power down. Teams are certainly not going whether they’re doing that, so from the outside we just can’t know. Having the most powerful PU in the first ten races doesn’t help much if the PU doesn’t have enough reliability to keep that level of performance for the other ten. Actually, that might easily be the reason why Ferrari didn’t win last year.

        I love to analyze trends and make predictions as much as anybody else, but I think in terms of PUs it’s too soon to draw conclusions.

    2. Champagne Papi
      12th July 2018, 9:46

      As John Watson said, Ferrari now have the faster car, but Mercedes have the faster driver.

      Silverstone qualifying was testament to that.

      Mercedes need to find a couple tenths to level the playing field.

      1. Hahaha. Your fastest driver was about to get beaten by Bottas in Silverstone qualifying but Bottas made mistake in Sector 3. Hamilton made none so the best of Bottas was better than the best of Hamilton.

        Hamilton even lost pole with the fastest car in Montreal, qualified behind Verstappen, quite an embarrassing performance. Among the top 3 teams, Hamilton and Verstappen have made the most mistakes.

        1. But he did make a mistake, he was beyond his limit

      2. Ferrari seems to have the faster PU, but in our* opinion Mercedes still has the faster car.
        * Bottas, Wolff, and I ;-)

        1. Champagne Papi
          12th July 2018, 10:32

          The two Finns are an accurate measure of where the cars are I think, and if Kimi is outqualifying Bottas by 3 tenths at Silverstone that says it all really.

          The Ferrari was aerodynamically superior last year and this year they have ramped the concept up to 11, plus they now have a more powerful engine.

          Of course Toto will tow the company line, it’s just plain bad PR to admit you haven’t built a car as quick as your main rival.

          But the Ferrari is a monster this year and only reliability or operational mess ups will deny them both titles if it carries on as it is.

          1. The two Finns are an accurate measure of where the cars are I think,

            This is a mistake that most people make. For some reason the drivers that are taking the less out of the car are the ones that are used for measurement of its qualities.

            It the same thing as saying that the McLaren or the Sauber are two of the worst cars on the grid because Vandoorne and Ericsson are usually trailing the pack.

            It is a romantic view, because people like to use the expression “outperforming its own car”, but in reality if a driver is scoring points in normal circumstances that is because the car is capable of it. The closest measurement to the real ultimate performance of a car are the drivers in a team that have the best results with it, and even so, since at the end of the day we are all human, it is not 100% of the car’s ultimate performance.

            So if Lewis keeps putting that car on pole more often than not, and Vettel isn’t making errors in his lap, that means the Merc is faster, and vice-versa

            1. Champagne Papi
              12th July 2018, 10:47

              Bottas is quicker than Kimi. Younger, fitter, sharper so its absolutely a good baseline to use.

              Seb and Lewis are both superior drivers but less consistent. The Finns just get on with it.

              Lewis outperformed the car at Silverstone, watch the laps and how much of a knife edge he is on, Seb was chilling by comparison.

            2. Bottas can be fitter, younger and physically stronger than Kimi but that doesn’t make him faster. Kimi has more raw talent than most of the drivers on the grid. Look at his qualifying performance against Vettel (a qualy specialist) and he’s been there most of times despite being almost 40 years of age.

            3. Champagne Papi
              12th July 2018, 11:17

              Dude hasnt won a race in a front running car for years, constantly makes errors in q3 and hasn’t replicated the form he showed in Australia again all season. He’s past it no matter how much his fan base will protest the fact.

            4. there it is again “Lewis outperformed the car at Silverstone”

              that doesn’t happen

            5. Champagne Papi
              12th July 2018, 11:30

              @johnmilk dude it doesnt mean he literally got out of the car and ran at the speed of light, it means he extracted more from his machine than his rivals did, don’t be so pedantic.

            6. I like to be

            7. Champagne Papi
              12th July 2018, 12:02

              @johnmilk fair.

          2. @johnmilk why should we only judge from the last race? In Austria Bottas was 0.5s faster than Kimi in a 1:03 lap! Wow that Mercedes is so fast, their drivers obviously underpeformed in Silverstone.

            See what I did there?

            The truth is the Ferrari PU really seems the best one right now, but Mercedes looks to have a bit more downforce. The two top teams seem closely matched.

            1. Champagne Papi
              12th July 2018, 12:29

              @afonic if Mercedes have more downforce why did they get spanked at Monaco and expect more of the same at Hungary and Singapore?

              Why have they half heartedly copied Ferrari’s sidepod concept as it’s too late to fully implement a similar solution?

              Ferrari is leading the way on all fronts car wise.

            2. @afonic just tried to make the point that the drivers that finish ahead of their teammates are the ones that are a truer measurement of the car’s performance…

            3. @johnmilk I agree with that, but even if you compare Bottas’ time to Vettel, Mercedes was still way faster in Austria.

              For me the golden variable are the tires. Their performance is so close that the one that can do better work with the the tires in each track emerges ahead.

            4. steveetienne
              12th July 2018, 20:44

              the key change is the 5kg of extra fuel. mercedes engine is considerably more fuel efficient than ferrari’s – this is why they lobbied for extra fuel.

          3. Of course Toto will tow the company line, it’s just plain bad PR to admit you haven’t built a car as quick as your main rival.

            Where have you been? Too much champagne ;-). They do it constantly claiming that the other car is quicker. I’m not even going to indulge you with the various quotes of the past triple header; just browse through the various interviews.

            1. Champagne Papi
              12th July 2018, 13:35

              @coldfly far too many bubbles though for real, you make a good point.

          4. The two Finns are an accurate measure of where the cars are I think, and if Kimi is outqualifying Bottas by 3 tenths at Silverstone that says it all really.

            Okay then:
            If Bottas is outqualifying Kimi by 4 tenths at Catalunya that says it all really.
            If Bottas is outqualifying Kimi by 2 tenths at Montreal that says it all really.
            If Bottas is outqualifying Kimi by 9 tenths at Paul Ricard that says it all really.
            If Bottas is outqualifying Kimi by 5 tenths at Red Bull Ring that says it all really.

            In fact there are 4 sessions each where they outqualified each other, and two where they screwed up (Bottas at Melbourne, Raikkonen at Baku). The cars look pretty closely matched to anyone not showing tremendous bias.

      3. I only know Ferrari have a winning driver, while Mercedes have a whining driver.

        1. I only know Ferrari have a winning driver, while Mercedes have a whining driver.

          @yeohck eh, both win and whine. 2 sides of the same coin?

        2. @yeohck They made a song out of Vettel’s “blue flags blue flags blue flags blue flags blue flags blue flags blue flags blue flags”.

      4. Hamilton is surely the fastest driver on a single lap. I mean, he is literally it, being the one with most pole positions. But “fastest driver” is a broader concept.

        1. Hamilton has been the fastest driver in a Mercedes, yes. Although Rosberg did out-qualify him one year.

          1. Champagne Papi
            12th July 2018, 11:33

            I actually think there’s nothing in it if you put Seb and Lewis in identical cars.

            What I should have added was a plural to my original John Watson quote ;

            As John Watson said, Ferrari now have the faster car, but Mercedes have the faster drivers.

            Hopefully Ferrari have realised there’s a WCC as well and the LeClerc rumours are true, that will be some driver lineup. Bye Kimi.

            1. Buona sera Papa,
              Aspetta, aspetta il mio amico…

    3. This just proves that there is no real need to change the PU format. Renault & Honda will get there as well.
      And it is hugely doubtful that others will enter, with or without spec changes.

    4. I don’t know, and really I don’t think we will never know for sure.

      It feels at the moment that Ferrari have more power available, but to what point are Mercedes holding back, since surprisingly they are the ones struggling with reliability and there are some concerns over the new upgrade.

      The packages not do seem pretty matched in performance, even if Ferrari has more power, so we should have an entertaining season.

      I think in qualifying every single corner we were quicker than Sebastian [Vettel] but we just hose time down the straights.

      Is this Horner preparing the speech for next year?

      1. Haha, yes it is very McLarenesque!

    5. So, here’s a question that’s been at the back of my mind about Red Bull.

      If RBR are looking quite secure in third place by early September, can they actually start running a Honda engine for the last few races, to gather valuable data, essentially treating the last 5-6 races as an extended test (i.e. post Singapore)? Apart from re-homologating the car, would there be any objections from the FIA?

      RBR have to deal with both the change in front-wing philosophy, as well as the new PU, so rather than have all their eggs in one basket for the 2019 pre-season tests, if possible, they might want to hit the ground running with the PU at least, and sort out packaging constraints.

      1. @phylyp they have a contract with Renault, so the first actor opposing to this – which is a beautiful scenario – I think it’s the manufacturer itself. I suppose they want their full share of merit for RBR position/performance. And 5-6 races are well enough to lose a couple of positions, they can’t be that far from the 4th place: a couple of DNF for RBR and 3rd-5th placement for the runner-up and their position can already be in danger.

        Other than that, what I’d really want to see is the midfield putting pressure on RBR: Renault and Haas look in good shape. Amazing season so far!

      2. If the Honda was really good they might do this, but it isn’t so they wont, 2019 will be another engine development year for RB.

      3. @phylyp I could be wrong of course but as I understand this current era there is no way they’d be able to take their designed-for-a-Renault Pu RBR car, and just slap a Honda Pu behind it instead, and just go racing mid-season. It would have to be integrated with their braking system, and it would have to be cooled properly and the RBR bodywork would be designed to cool the Renault not the Honda Pu, etc etc.

        1. Good points, @m-bagattini & @robbie , there are contractual and technical challenges as you’ve outlined that make my idea just a pipe dream :-)

    6. It is interesting what Rosberg said in his last vlog on YouTube, from Silverstone. Basically, he’s saying that Ferrari can recover more energy, taking more air in its turbo, to be stored as electricity and deployed to the electrical engine. I only have heard from him about this thing. Any other info on the matter?

      1. @m-bagattini We’ll never know as they are guarding the details of these things like state secrets. However there are limits of the power output (120kW max I think) and the amount of energy you are allowed to spend per lap (2 megajoules).

        What I don’t know, what percentage of the allowed energy each engine is able to use. You aim for 100% but it may not be possible depending on various factors. If Ferrari optimized this by retrieving energy faster and others are not there yet, it could explain their top speed.

        The other possibility is that all engines can use 100% of the energy and Ferrari has found a way to exceed that limit, hence the FIA was testing their batteries.

        1. digitalrurouni
          12th July 2018, 13:01

          I believe it’s a maximum of 4MJ that can be sent from the ES to the K per lap. At the Ks Max output that equates to 33s/lap. It’d not a time cap it’s an energy cap.

          Energy transfer from the H to the K is not capped in the same way. So I believe Ferrari has a better deployment with their H to K and that’s where they are winning. I don’t think it’s outright power it’s how long it can be deployed. I even think Mercedes may have more peak power but not as long deployment. I also believe the Mercedes engines are more fuel efficient still than the Ferrari.

        2. @afonic
          It’s 4 MJ, as digitalrurouni rightly mentioned, and Silverstone’s track layout, especially its lack of hard braking zones, makes it impossible to regenerate anything like that over the course of a lap. Even if Ferrari were able to use more than 100% of a battery’s allowance (which is highly unlikely, as the FIA has had plenty of time to investigate their inner workings), that would only amount to a one-time advantage that’s watered down to the point of becoming insignificant over the course of a race. The real game-changer is efficiency. If you can recover just a fraction of an MJ more per lap than your closest competitors (not having to worry about the 4 MJ cap, as you aren’t getting anywhere near that), that’s an advantage you get to use on every single lap. Or maybe you can save it up for a few laps to deploy it all at once when it counts.

    7. In qualifying, i’d put my money on HAM but it will always be tight between VET and HAM as i generally think they both have good 1-lap pace. Obviously this is going to boil down to both the drivers relative comfort in the car on the day.

      Arguably though, VET appears more aggressive when performing overtakes…

      1. digitalrurouni
        12th July 2018, 15:34

        And I think Vettel’s more aggressive overtakes is probably because the Ferrari is not as affected by turbulent wake from the front car as much as the Mercedes is. I firmly believe the Ferrari is an easier car to manage, setup and get the most out of. This championship is Ferrari’s to lose.

      2. @icarby The word you’re looking for is not so much “aggressive”, but “clumsy”.

        1. There was certainly nothing clumsy about Vettel’s overtake on Hamilton at Austria. Lewis just got schooled.

          1. No, not really. Watch CH4, you’ll see how Hamilton had harvesting issues at the time Vettel overtook him. David Coulthard points this out. Also, Hamiton had been asked to ease off to cool his tyres.

          2. @kingshark I don’t think there is anything HAM could’ve done about that, the interesting thing about that particular overtake is that it was the exact same spot that ROS crashed with HAM, but VET allowed HAM to turn the corner on his terms. I’m finding HAM extremely risk adverse at the moment. Plus there’s been overtakes, not this year mind, that HAM’s done on VET which were slam dunks. It’s a good tussle between the two but it appears things really boil down to how much pace there is possible in the car and what VET and HAM are prepared to do to get the job done. I think VET prepared to take more risk.

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