Back in the old days of Formula 1, engines were the key to winning. Aerodynamic design hadn’t evolved to the impact it later would become so shove in a car was the real path to glory. Ferrari was terrific at making engines and so was Ford with its DFV. The era is often referred to as the golden age of F1 but today we find ourselves completely locked in a new era of the engine.
The Power Units today are the key between winning and being an also ran and while Ferrari struggled in 2014—the first year of the new hybrid engine specification—they have made significant gains over the winter. While one race doesn’t a season make, Australian Grand Prix did at least send a warning shot across the bow of Williams who were surprised by Ferrari’s gains as Williams performance chief Rob Smedley said:
“If you look at the two teams who have made a huge improvement, it’s Ferrari and Sauber.
“And what’s the common link? It’s pretty clear that the Ferrari power unit has taken a huge step forward.”
The performance this year by Ferrari makes the 2014 season seem like the Dick Sargent years of Bewitched. They looked similar to Ferrari and no one could really put their finger on what had changed but something did. Now we’re back to the Dick York era of Ferrari and things are back on track…which of course means that Mercedes must be Endora at this point. An Renault? Well, clearly they are the David White of F1…the butt of many dodgy spells.
Ferrari’s gains come at a time when engine performance is key to success but not the only element that matters. Mercedes is still the engine to beat but Lotus and Force India both have the German power units and are not fighting for podiums.
Moving to Malaysia for the next round of the F1 series, the question might be, can Ferrari beat Williams on a markedly different track than Australia? That could be a key moment in Ferrari’s resurgence but whether or not they can take the fight to Mercedes is another story.