It has been confirmed that the first wave of development power units, boosted by the use of ‘tokens’ for 2015, is about to come on stream this weekend in Montreal and there is a lot of hope and expectation around Ferrari’s, which uses three of their available 10 tokens. Both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will use the revised power units this weekend.
This will be the third engine both drivers have used this season, out of their allocation of four. The suggestion is that a fourth engine, using further tokens, will be made available for Monza, the Italian Grand Prix, which is clearly an important race for Ferrari.
Canada is also an important race for the team historically; a race to which they have brought significant upgrades in the past. It is even more important today as new Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne was raised in Canada. Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene tried to throw the media off he scent in Monaco, suggesting that there would be nothing special in Canada, but the FIA has sent out a technical communication confirming that Ferrari has a boosted power unit this weekend, as we foreshadowed on this site last week.
Indiscretions in Italy suggest that the revised areas of the Ferrari engine are in the area of combustion, camshafts and pistons, while long term technical partner Shell has provided a new fuel, which contributes to the power boost from the revised package.
While Honda is also using up some tokens on its engines, it appears that Mercedes is not using any on the new engines it will supply to its works team and to customer teams this weekend.They have fewer tokens to use for the seasons, but clearly the later engines 3 & 4 may well feature performance enhancements for the business end of the championship. By that stage, given that Ferrari is already on engine 3, while Mercedes is on engine 2, the Maranello squad may need to take a tactical engine penalty later in the season – a 10 place grid drop if a fifth engine is needed.
The Monza engine would be on its seventh race in Abu Dhabi, while Mercedes has managed six races on its first engine.
It will be interesting to see how much closer the new Ferrari power unit brings them to the Mercedes cars. The gap in qualifying has been around 7/10ths of a second and there should be around 3/10ths in the power unit upgrade, if the indiscretions on the extent of the update are accurate. The gap in races, however has been less (apart from Spain, where Ferrari struggled with the tyres)
For Canada and Austria, which will both be raced on soft and supersoft tyres, we can expect Ferrari to mount a serious challenge to Mercedes in race conditions.
The Montreal track has the highest fuel consumption of the season due to its stop start nature and the long bassets of open throttle. Renault predicts that “consumption will be some 7% over the permitted maximum, so energy recovery and fuel saving becomes critical to be able to finish the race.”