Ferrari suffering pain now, but fixes could bring Mercedes into its sights
Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari F1 team
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Apr 2016   |  8:24 am GMT  |  87 comments

The engine failure for Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain was certainly a painful blow to Ferrari, dropping Vettel 35 points behind Nico Rosberg already and costing the team the chance to stay in touch with Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.

By pushing the envelope on the engine, these are the risks that Ferrari decided to take in seeking to bridge the gap to Mercedes from 2015 to this year. But there could be good news on the horizon.

An injector failure is being discussed as the cause of Vettel’s failure, the damage likely to be severe enough for the four time champion to need a new unit for the next event in China. This is not the end of the world, as the teams have five engines for the 2016 season, despite there only being two more races than in 2015, when they had four. So there is some room for manoeuvre.

Kimi Raikkonen

Perhaps more significant is the development which is coming for the team on the turbo, which was due for China and has now been pushed back to Spain, while the customer teams will get it for Austria.

This will fix a problem whereby vibrations from the turbo, which is seeking to spin at very high speeds, are causing the unit to overheat. Ferrari has not been able to exploit the full potential of its unit as a result and has had to run more conservatively.

Bahrain however showed that they have made strides on the control electronics side and the speeds they were achieving show that, once the turbo issue is fixed, there will be little to choose between the Ferrari and the Mercedes on power.

The problem is that they have already lost this early ground in both championships and cannot get it back.

If we think back to the two four-day tests in Barcelona, Mercedes had everyone guessing by covering very high mileages on the medium tyres, not going for lap times, but going for reliability. This has paid off in the opening rounds and the only points dropped are the three Hamilton did not pick up for second place rather than third in Bahrain, after a tangle on the opening lap caused car damage.

In contrast Ferrari has retired two cars from four starts, which has cost them 30 points.

Ferrari drivers

The turbo fix will also have a positive effect for the customer teams, especially Haas, which appears to be in a battle with Force India, Toro Rosso and even Williams.

Toro Rosso uses the 2015 Ferrari engine, so will not be in line for any of the developments during the season and this will allow Haas to move ahead of them.

If you bear in mind the points Haas has already scored and project forward through the season, it’s not inconceivable that the American newcomers could finish sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, which would be worth approximately US$30m in prize money, to be paid next season.

Do you see Ferrari challenging Mercedes for wins soon? Leave your comments below

Featured Video
Behind the Scenes at the track
Behind the Scenes at the track
Featured News in ferrari
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Stopped excuses redbull has beat up Ferrari.


I think Ferrari needs to concern it self with Red Bull since Mercedes has outclassed them for at least since Hamilton and Rosberg been driving for them. Now Ricardo and Verstappen are finishing ahead of Ferrari. Last year was the last time you won a race. I’m not sure what’s going on but the cars seem to get slower every race. Qualifying 5th and 6th just does not cut it.


it’s not inconceivable that the American newcomers could finish sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, which would be worth approximately US$30m in prize money, to be paid next season

Hang on a second, I have heard over and over again that new teams despite performance/results are not eligible for prize money for at least the first three years.. how does this work ?


To be honest, Ferrari have gifted Mercedes these first two wins of 2016. I’d say Merc are already in their sights, and with the fixes from Maranello, comfortable.


Hopefully they can!


James, could you explain the improvement on the ‘control electronics side’ also could you do an insight on the Phase document?


Congratulations to Ferrari for continuing to push the limits on its engine development program. If you don’t blow up the occasional engine then you haven’t turned up the wick enough.


The significant change in the PU architecture from 2015 always hung in the back of my mind & When you have those significant changes you need more testing which for whatever reason they did not do in winter testing.

Whilst Im sure Ferrari will have a fix- they will risk another 2 races till then and theres no guarantee it will be an better. Do we know when Mercedes upgrades will come?- I dont think they will be waiting for Ferrari to impove either.

Finally when comparing gaps isn’t it more logical & common to compare the nearest Ferrari on points which is Raikkonen who is 32 pts behind than the guy who is 35 pts behind???.. Instead of The guy whos 35 behind — ahmm I guess not..Interestingly Ricciardo is only 26 pts behind too.. But hey why dont we all jump on the Vettel bandwagon and forget that most teams actually have 2 cars ????. Wouldnt it be great if the positions remained this way to year end. Wonder what the Vettel [Mod] will say then — probably go quite again like they did in 2014.


@ elie…’the significant change in PU architecture etc etc etc’ what exactly were the changes in architecture? the basic architecture was, AFAIK, cast in concrete.
the V angles bore and stroke and crank profile and cylinder spacing were not able to be changed AFAIK, so please advise where these ‘architectural’ changes were made….


Love your support for Kimi!! Interesting that the comparison was not between Seb & Lewis – if we need to be consistent in approach – isn’t it?


Well that makes sense doesnt it 1st Merc V1st Ferrari. 2nd Merc V2nd Ferrari.

Its all so premature right now after only 2 races and 2 Ferrari non finishes. I know roughly where most of the drivers will finish the season and thats mot the point is it.just highlights the subtle way people in F1 manipulate information to keep certain people at the forefront and others out. In F1 when good your great and when your just ok – your dead & buried – thats just how it works. The reality for all driver is somewhere in between. Have a look at the replies – ridiculous!. Someones hurt but its not their head its … A little lower


@Kenneth – The PU doesnt just refer the ICE & its internals it refers the ERS systems – MGU-H & MGU-K and the various cooling systems and control electronics in the cars. So when someone refers the architecture of the PU they refer all the components Not just one.

As explained to you before Ferrari moved the MGU-H from within the block to down below the left bank of the ICE, it has moved the oil cooler from the back of the car to alongside the ICE also. The radiators have changed also. Aside of the significant work done to improve compression within the ICE and the turbo.

There were articles on this site,, & the F1 site also among several others.


@ elie…yes, i am fully aware of what the regs say. moving elements of the PU to alternative locations is not altering the ‘architecture’. that term refers to the FIA specified design parameters of the PU elements…not their location!


Well i’ll just copy paste what i replied to nick in another post.

In the 14 races both of them finished in 2015, Vettel was ahead in 13 of them. And in the other 5 races where one of them retired before the end of the race Vettel was ahead in 4 of those races. In the races Vettel started from last place due to a penalty, he finished in 5th or 4th(once place behind Kimi who started those races in 3rd while every time Kimi started from behind he ending up crashing or retiring.

Oh wait I am not done yet Vettel had 13podium in 2015 that inculdes 3 wins and a pole. While Kimi had 3 podiums and no race wins the whole year.

In all races in 2015 except Bharain and Silverstone, Vettel race pace was faster than Kimi(In china Vettel ruined his tyre running close to Rosberg and pitted several laps before Kimi and hence it gave the false sense that Kimi was faster than Vettel in the last few laps of the race. In Silverstone Kimi was not able to make extend his gap to Vettel i.e Vettel was just keeping the distance to make sure his tyres dont wear and his engine doesnt overhead(but this was the only race where before the rains arrived their pace was identical. Even in the other races where Kimi finished in front because Vettel started last i.e Canada and Abu Dhabi, Vettel race pace was miles ahead of Kimi.

Finally Kimi has always been a no 2 driver. He dint own Massa the way Micheal and Alonso did(Micheal was forced into retirement early or he too would have wiped the floor with Kimi) Massa would have finished 2009 ahead of Kimi if it hadnt been for his accident. And in 2016 it will be the 4th time in his career he’ll be a no 2 driver(2008,2014,2015 and 2016). I think its time he and Massa hangs up their boots and lets one of the young guns get an opportunity.(No fan of Button but I thing Button brings more to the table than Kimi and Massa combined)

So finally why dont you Kimi fans lay the blame where it belongs i.e at Kimi’s own feet. No team starts with a clear no 1 even if it is explicitly written in the drivers contracts. When Hamilton was faster than Alonso or Ricciardo faster than Vettel it took hardly a few races for the teams to align themselves with the faster driver. Btw Ferrari has been more than generous with Kimi in his 2nd inning at Ferrari. He is the least effective driver yet he earns 20 millions. Ferrari doesnt need the fans Kimi brings to the table. Their brand dint suffer when Kimi was rightfully ditched for Alonso and they wont suffer when he is replaced next year. Finally without the pullrod front suspension Kimi shouldnt have an excuse to be beaten by Vettel this year.


F1 is all about data and facts.

Hard to argue about facts here.


Please stop inventing stuff up. I cant find any such quote made by James Allision. He only implied and said that Kimi could keep up with Vettel and there was not much between them. But all the data points otherwise. So either James Allison is an fool or he was only trying to hype Kimi up to justify retaining Kimi the 2016 season. And I may not be Ferrari but every one in Ferrari treats Vettel as their no 1 Driver and you have implied it numerous times in your post as well. You need to earn the right to be a no 1 Driver and you just get a designation no 1 driver by signing a contract. If Kimi was as close to Vettel as Rosberg was to Hamilton no one would even bother trumping up Vettel in Ferrari and they would get equal treatment.

You say he was epic in 3 races and 3 qualifications what about the other 17 where his teammate outshone him? You’re trying to tell me Ferrari is paying 20 million to Kimi just to screw him up when they could just fire him and hire a young gun for 4 million or less rather than hurting their own changes i.e their prize money by ruining his races. Grow up man and get a life

Last year Kimi’s car retired due to reliability or pit issues in only 2 races Australia(pitstop) Hungary(engine). His other 3 retirements were because he crashed out some due to his own mistakes.(Aus, USA and Mexico) In all of those races Vettel had an edge over Kimi both in qualification and in the race(In Mexico even with the puncture Vettel was matching Hamilton and Rosberg for race pace while Kimi was just being Kimi or being average. Yes i am aware Vettel crashed out like a rookie in the end but the lap times until that mistake were pretty good for Vettel but not so for Kimi)

Just how many races did Kimi out qualify Vettel in the entire season???? You only seem to remember one race Monza. And the way you described it seems pretty orgasmic for you but isnt Monza the race where Vettel ended up finishing 2nd and Kimi 5th(Btw i mentioned this to you last year too when they were in clean air Vettel was 2/10 faster than Kimi in that race please do compare the data after their pit stop without traffic) and there is nothing epic when you finished in 5th starting from 2nd position. Yes Kimi had a setback but whenever Vettel has started last year from last he finished 4th or 5th while Kimi mostly starts in front but tend to go back wards or crash into people).

Neither was there anything epic about Kimi’s race pace in Spain because he finished 5th nearly 15 seconds and two positions behind Vettel. Again China he was in clean air the whole race and had fresher tyres at the end while Vettel was stuck behind Rosberg the entire race yet finished ahead of Kimi.

Now for the British GP which you keep bring up. Vettel started behind Kimi, he also had a poor start and fell further back. He took until lap 15 to get back behind Kimi. The gap between them was 2.722 on lap 15. The gap between them before the track got damp i.e lap 37 was 2.361(In fact the gap was always between 2 to 3 seconds the entire time ie from lap 15 to 37) I have posted the link below you can check the times for yourself.

And again if i were a Kimi fan i would shut up about the British GP as it really reflects poorly that a Driver of his status with a lead over 2.3 seconds over his teammate goes from 5th to 8th, while this teammate goes from 6th to 3rd and finishes 90 seconds ahead all in the spate of 15 laps. And you say Vettel couldnt keep up with Kimi in the British Gp!!! Really dude??? Seriouly???

BTW Vettel took out that gap of 2.3 seconds in a matter of half a lap. Video link posted for you below to judge between a Epic driver and an average no 2 Driver who should all do us a favor and retire gracefully instead of giving his deluded fan the idea that he can mount a serious challenge for the championship least alone challenge his teammate.

Finally for you “oh wait right now Vettel 15 Raikkonen 18” Lets see where it end by the end of the year. I bet you’ll still be inventing deluded reasons for Ferrari to screw Kimi thus screw themselves instead of accepting that Kimi is just an average Driver. I mean come on you can have one bad year. But when was the last time Kimi was actually epic??? in 2005??? Seriously dude. He’s been a no 2 driver 4 times since then. If you cant base your replies based on actual facts than please dont reply back.


Seriously, you couldn’t find that quote? Have you heard of Google? I just typed in “Vettel couldn’t live with Kimi”, and got a flood of links. Here’s just one:

I tell my kids that the volume of their voice does nothing to make their point, if anything it detracts from it. I can’t help but feel the same about the length of your comments. Quality over quantity.


Long comment, couldn’t read all but Elie has a point which your stats failed to address unless you are saying we should disregard kimi’s performances because of those stats, which is a not the main point of the discussion


Aaron- Vettel was quoted by James Allison as “not been able to live with Kimis pace at several tracks “during 2015 . If you bothered to analyse the data at Silvetstone before the rain stop you would know this – Let alone actually SEE Kimi was pulling away. !He out qualified Seb at Monza before his start failure and his race pace was epic.Parts of Spain too. Definitely China as well were mentioned by Ferrari – So i dont know who you think you are- but your definitely NOT Ferrari.
Raikkonen isnt likely to beat Seb over a year but then I would suggest 20 other racers are not likely to either & unless they have the same reliability & team support / strategy how does anyone ever really get an accurate picture- oh wait right now Vettel 15 Raikkonen 18


Perhaps Ferrari can pull close to even by mid year, problem is this. At what point do you start putting heavy resources towards next years very different car. 2017 could shake things up pretty heavily. Who will start early and who will push 2016 for every last drop in hopes of mfg points. Really excited to see who does what.

Merc is so brilliant these days with their development perhaps their 2017 car will do,I ate as well but…at least there is hope for several teams to step up to challenge.


This is the kind of insight and separation of wheat from chaff that keeps me coming back to JAonF1, thanks. Everyone merely reports, James amplifies the signal in the noise.
Hope Ferrari can deliver, but also think Hamilton is yet to get serious, the resurgence of the two may coincide and we’ll have a hell of a season on our hands.


Ferrari seem to be in the same position as Mercedes in 2014,where they had speed but unreliability. Merc can afford the kind of runs during testing because they know they already have speed and as such need more ‘bulletproofing’


This is very good news indeed, I wasn’t aware they were holding back on power. Rumour is Ferrari are also working on a system called HCCI to bring them nearer to Merc in qualifying, could you shed any light on this James?


I doubt even if they get the turbo fixed that they will be on a par with Merc as im sure Merc have a decent margin in their engine modes and can sacrifice reliabity a bit to maintain a decent gap.
Sure they have closed the gap from a avg 0.8s lap to 0.5s but all things being equal thats still 30s at a race distance


Wasn’t 30 secs last race


You think Rosberg was anywhere near flat out? Easy win for him, a free race to grab 25 pts while saving the engine.


Mr Allen I agree with Mike’s post that the death of James Allison’s wife could lead him to decide to leave Ferrari for an English based team(possibly in Grove or Enstone again?) to be closer to the rest of his family. Are Ferrari fully confident Allison will return to Maranello to work Mr Allen? How much of a setback would it be in the aerodynamics department and from leadership point of view for were he (Allison) to leave? If Ferrari lose James Allison then this will be a major setback for Scuderia Ferrari unless they do everything they can to re-sign Aldo Costa as he hasn’t done a bad job at Mercedes in the last couple of seasons helping them win 2 doubles in the last 2 seasons . What do you think James?


James Allison isnt in charge of Aero. He is a Technical head. So there wont be a short term issues. As most of the updates for the next few races are alright signed off. There are numerous people who can assume his responsibility until he is able to take charge. All teams have adequate risk management in place to take care of all eventualities. Including risk arising due to the loss of key personal in their organization. And James Allison is just on leave and hasnt left Ferrari yet. He can still work out of home.


It is hard to believe that Ferrari discovered vibrations in their turbo now, after two races.
Even harder to believe is that turbo vibrates to the point that it causes Extra friction and overheating
Turbo spins up to 280 000 rpm, even on my road car, so discovering a manufacturing flaw by formula 1 team now, sounds really incredible. Why does it vibrate? Out of balance? How’s that possible in F1 world? And even more so, how did it go below radar this far?
Also as far as I remember seing photos from the ’80s, turbo glows from the heat of the exhaust gases, so it has to be designed to withstand heat. What company supplies Ferrari with turbo? I guess, in the ’80s used to be KKK.
I just don’t buy the idea of turbo vibrating is the root of their problems.


@ krako……i think that you’ll find that max allowable turbo RPM in current F1 engines is limited at 125K RPM. what road car are you driving that can spin up to 280000RPM ?


I don’t know what rpm turbo in my car does, I doubt it is near 280K, Although I think 280K is the highest rpm turbo does in general.

I wasn’t aware that there+s also a limit on turbo rpm in current F1 car.
Cheers for that info.




Remember the turbo is directly connected to the MGU-H, which also has to spin at the same speed. More complicated than a typical turbo. I think Honeywell supply the Ferrari units.


Ferrari were aware of the problem, but tried to downplay it while working towards a solution. If you remember, back in winter testing Haas openly reported problems with the turbo and it was rumoured that also Sauber was reporting excessive vibrations when running their PU. As a result of those issues, It was said that Ferrari (who at the time also suffered reliability issues but didn’t disclose the cause) asked both customer teams to run the PU at a conservative setting. Kimi’s retirement in Australia was only further confirmation of the entity of the problem. They partnered with Honeywell to develop the new turbo that should be ready by the Spanish GP, so they had been actively working to rectify the problem. Let’s hope they get it right so that they can turn up their UP to full power 🙂 If the official version is true and a new turbo and better software are the answer to Kimi and Seb’s retirements, Ferrari should be just fine, if not it will be another year of Formula Mercedes ;(.


It is unbelievable that turbo vibrates. As if they bought some amateur product off the shelf somewhere.
It can vibrate only if it is out of balance.
And they need 3 months to build new turbos?
Tolerances in F1 are probably one of the tightest in any industry, at least it is my perception of F1.
Although on other site I saw cracked bodywork on Renault front wishbones, which get me rethink the above statement. 🙂

And on the left side as well:

I hope Honda and Renault will sort out their issues, so we can get to enjoy competitive championship for a change.


” Ferrari has retired two cars from four starts “

that gave me a start


Would actually be 1 DNF from 3 starts, and one DNS.


With every year that passes, Ferrari are the great pretenders. Before they get their act together v Mercedes, McLaren Honda or another team (excluding Haas as the Ferrari B team) will leap ahead.


So they were going to change their turbo configuration for China, but now it’s been pushed back 5 weeks?


any news on the FIA investigating the coded dash-board message used by Ferrari in Bahrain?




why would Torro Rosso agree to be supplied with an out of date engine? and why would the FIA allow it, surely we want to give everyone the best chance, and atleast make racing competitive? Ferrari should not be allowed to sell an old engine which also means that team can not develop it through the season!


Well, Toro Rosso was a Ferrari customer until 2013, when the hybrid era began they changed to Renault power (which might have seemed like the right decision at the time given the awful Ferrari ’14 PU ;P) and last year in the middle of Red Bull’s melodrama with Renault and the possibility of the withdrawal of both teams from the sport, it wasn’t clear what PU they would finally get if any. By the time Red Bull settled for a rebranded Renault PU, Toro Rosso at least managed to get a Ferrari ’15 spec. The break up/make up with Renault took so long, that Ferrari could no longer produce in time a ’16 spec for Toro Rosso given the complexity of a PU, or at least that was the official version given by manufacturer and customer. Presumably, if TR had signed a contract with Ferrari at the beginning of 2015 so that they could be included in their list of customers along Sauber and Haas for 2016, there would have been room for TR given that Manor chose to change to Merc power. It might not seem fair, but it was best thing TR could get at the time. That’s why they know they have to make the most out of the good and reliable PU they have before the rest of the field begins to introduce evolutions.


Ferrari stated that when Redbull approached them for an engine supply that it was a bit late in the day. They could only offer the 2015 spec engine which begs the question. Could Torro Rosso receive a 2017 spec engine next year?


This seems the logical extrapolation of a high-but-wise development token spend by Ferrari over winter. Qualy modes still seem solidly in Merc’s favour, where I even feel they have not had to employ their most aggressive settings. I expect the turbo stabilisation now planned for Spain will nudge Ferrari to virtual parity with Merc in race trim, essentially making aero the arbiter.


Hope to see more from Ferrari with the new turbo, in the ideal case challenging Mercedes for the win. Mercedes have reported that the 2015-spec Ferrari power unit is currently the least powerful engine on the grid. They base these claims on GPS readings, apparently. I really wonder how they extract information purely on the engine power, when there are so many variables, like the amount of downforce. I could image something like comparing the acceleration and top speed, but still the tyre wear and fuel load needs to be the same, or somehow taken into the equation. Could anyone provide more information on how engine power is estimated from GPS data?


You’re right, there are so many variables. But they’d be collecting so much well compiled data that their theories must have a lot of substance.


Certainly Ferrari’s unreliability has been a surprise so the team must be hoping to avoid further failures till the new upgrade comes in Spain

And yes, it will be interesting what step the team make on the engine though Lauda said after Monza 2015 that Ferrari had now achieved equal engines to the Mercedes team

As for the question do I see Ferrari challenging for wins soon, the answer is yes as Lewis said there will be races were Mercedes are a few seconds ahead, other races were Ferrari is ahead and other races were both teams are wheel to wheel.

Talking about Haas team, they are looking great as for some reason Force India and Williams seem to have gotten slower in 2016 whilst Red Bull and Torro Rosso have gotten faster


So Haas will most likely make 30 Million next year and they said their budget was 100 Million for this year.
That means they will lose 70 Million this year or another way to put it is they will spend 70 Million to advertise their brand using Formula 1.

To all of you that know this kind of thing, is that a good deal? 70 Million a year to advertise using an F1?


Bear in mind they’ll also have sponsorship (including the money Gutierrez brings with him) on top of that 30 million, no idea how much that is though, doesn’t seem to be a lot of non-Haas branding on the car…


There are some estimates of the worth of F1 in equivalent advirtising spend from after Mercedes’ first championship, it was something like 3x what they spent so there is value there. But Haas Automation will have a more direct effect in the number of machine tools they sell outside North America. These machine tools are not cheap and a single decent order can probably easily be worth deep into the 6 figures if not 7 figures. So you can imagine it won’t take too many new customers for their F1 spend to pencil for them. Gene has also stated if Haas F1 can generate a billion in sales (this seems to represent capturing about 1% global market share) he can fund the entire team through Haas Automation going forward. So while we won’t ever really know unless Gene says its a good deal you can imagine with the attention his brand has been receiving in just the first two races that he is already feeling pretty bullish on his investment in the sport.


They have sponsorship to meet some budgetary needs. So it won’t be 70million loss.


I think the author is incorrect about that. I believe it takes a new team a few years to receive their championship money.


While we always want to say F1 is a business don’t confuse that with a profit making business…


Championship results are not the only source of income for a team. How about “pay driver”…any idea if Guttierez pays or what amount in sponsorship he and Romain bring ?
James, a (simple) piece on team finances and how can they break even could be interesting ?


Maths isn’t your strong point, is it?


Are you referring to me?


Im expecting Ferrari to have some opportunities this year, when the conditions are suitable. Singapore 2015 is a good example, even Merc seemed at a loss to explain that weekend… but the stars need to align for them and Merc seem to have got enough to be just ahead.
Lets hope they are quick enough to make a race of the championship.


the best alignment of stars will be at the next race. Vettel will have the new turbo on a new PU whereas Mercs will be on their 4rd race… not enough me thinks. That is what Merc’s testing was all about – with their ‘phase document’ they know what they have to do to be able to win a PU’s 5th race against a new PU


The high mileage that Mercedes did over the test days paid off . Mercedes have a solid engine.
Meanwhile Ferrari went for speed & smaller long phase runs . So here lies the rub. Ferrari have a “dodgy motor” in the words of Arthur Daly (R.I.P). Still its not exactly a Renault engine masquerading as a TAG engine hey Mr Horner ????


Perhaps they knew they were pushing the reliability envelope, plus it seemed common sense for the Ferrari drivers to test out the new Super and ultra softs.

Merc on the other hand were so sorted for the season ahead, they were pushing to see the eventual breaking points on their PUs, plus were sandbagging so didn’t want to destroy everyone in testing on super or ultras, leading to negative press and calls for change.

Top Tags
SEARCH Scuderia Ferrari