Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said that the team was paying the price for prioritizing performance over reliability while developing their 2022 spec power unit. His comments came after Charles Leclerc endured his second power unit-related DNF of the season at the Azerbaijan GP last weekend.
Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, Binotto said:
“Reliability is crucial . You don’t win races without it.”
“I don’t want to blame our technicians. They did an excellent job with the drivetrain if you look back at where we came from. What we did last year with the hybrid system and in the winter made huge leaps in performance with the engine and it looks like we are paying the price now.”
Ferrari spent much of the 2020 and 2021 seasons developing a brand new spec power unit that was re-designed from the ground up, after a controversial FIA directive at the end of the 2019 season neutered their previous spec power unit.
Throughout last season, the Maranello-based team brought in steady upgrades to the Internal Combust Engine (ICE) and hybrid systems to end up with a good power unit by the end of the season. However, in its quest to reduce its horsepower deficit to Honda and Mercedes, Ferrari seemingly overlooked issues that are turning out to be a major hurdle in their championship bid.
At first glance, the new power unit seems unable to fulfill the required mileage per unit and any attempts at running the power unit for more than three to four races has led to catastrophic failure. This has been true for both Ferrari and its customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas.
Meanwhile, Binotto has offered no guarantees on whether the team will be able to fix the issue in the short term. He added:
“For us, it’s not primarily about bringing a new drive unit. We also have to be clear about how we will deal with it in the short term. Should we shorten the service life of the parts or change the application parameters?”
F1 power unit homologation played an important role in Ferrari overlooking reliability: Michael Schmidt
F1 journalist Michael Schmidt has claimed that Ferrari was right in prioritizing performance over reliability given the freeze in power unit development earlier this season.
Since the regulations allow for corrections later on, in the case of critical reliability issues, Schmidt believes the Scuderia was reasonable in taking the approach it took. In his column for Auto Motor und Sport, he wrote:
“The [Internal] combustion engine was frozen at the end of February and the hybrid system has to be homologated at the end of September, it was obvious for Ferrari to first look at the power and performance development.”
He further wrote:
“They wanted to take care of the reliability later if necessary. The regulations allow for corrections to be made if you can prove to the FIA, it’s all about ensuring reliability.”
While the regulations allow power unit manufacturers to modify their designs in case of critical reliability issues, the criteria is extremely stringent. Ferrari has already appealed to the FIA for a reliability modification, without much success however. Hence, it is to be seen whether the Scuderia is allowed to employ any potential fix that it may come up with.