Two things happened in 2019. First, Mercedes started off what appeared to be one of the most dominant seasons in Formula 1 history. Second, Ferrari amazingly rose to challenge that notion with three wins on the trot and several pole positions in the process.
Time will tell if Mercedes will be able to pummel the field with its dominance but if Ferrari have anything to say about it, that won’t happen. In fact, the last four races suggest they may be able to prevent it from happening.
Many have argued, with some accuracy, that Ferrari have had a straight-line speed advantage all season favoring an aero package that would let its power unit stretch its legs. On the opposite side of that coin, Mercedes has had such a power unit advantage since 2014 that it would sacrifice some of that shove by making an aero package that favored the twisty bits more than the straights.
When summer break was over, Ferrari brought an aero upgrade that somehow managed to make their car fast on straights and fast on the twisty bits too! Now the F1 paddock is sure that, with all engines converging, Ferrari have the best power unit on the grid but team boss Mattia Binotto isn’t entirely convinced.
“I would not agree fully with what you said.
“Firstly I don’t think that the others are converging. I still believe that there are differences between all four manufacturers.
“We are probably the more powerful engine, but I don’t think that the others are all on the same level at all.
“And I think that our advantage is not as big as you may think. We’ve got quite a big delta speed to the others, but that’s down to the car as well, and the drag.
“If we can come down to the more detailed analysis, I think yes we’ve got an advantage but it’s not so huge, for example, as Mercedes had in the past, when they were simply the best engine.”
He’s absolutely correct. The advantage Mercedes has had since the introduction of the hybrid power unit in 2014 has been unparalleled. That kind of superior performance hasn’t been seen in a long time in F1 and the only immediate comparison my mind can shove to my mouth is the Cosworth DFV.
The area I would consider twice, is just how much Honda has converged given where it started. It may be down on power but that’s where aero genius Adrian Newey earns his dosh and while Honda may not be on par with Merc or Ferrari, it is making serious progress as a Red Bull Racing partner.
Renault is the bigger story. Their reliability is better than it has been in the past but it still isn’t progressing or converging as you might think it would being a full works team and supplier of other teams. I am sure that’s why McLaren are leaving them in 2021.
If there is an advantage for Ferrari now, that may bode well for them after the 2021 regulation changes as F1 doesn’t seem interested in changing the engine regulations. Perhaps that’s why Mercedes inked a new deal with McLaren? To get another development team using their engine?
Hat Tip: Autosport