Ferrari’s headline times during the second practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix have got analysts thinking whether their pace was genuine, or if they simply turned their engine right up. After close analysis with the GPS traces of the teams from Friday running in Montreal, the answer may just have been revealed.
The Ferrari Formula 1 team led a 1-2 finish in FP2, with Charles Leclerc leading team-mate Sebastian Vettel by just under a tenth of a second, with Valtteri Bottas playing second fiddle in the Mercedes, some one tenth back.
GPS traces from the session seem to suggest when Ferrari fitted the softest compound of tyres on Pirelli’s range, the red-marked C5 tyre, they turned their engine modes right up.
A Mercedes Formula 1 engineer claimed that when Ferrari fitted the C5 Pirelli tyre for their qualifying-simulations, they gained 0.4s worth of lap-time just from the power unit, leaving aside the gains from the tyre compounds and a bigger push by the drivers.
“When Ferrari went for soft tires, they got four tenths faster from the engine alone,” a Mercedes Formula 1 engineer said, with access to the GPS traces from Friday’s Formula 1 running in Montreal.
It is, however, worth noting that Ferrari’s power advantage could be retained into qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix. Ferrari had been running the old, first specification engine through Friday practice in Canada, and will fit the updated spec overnight, which could give it a further pace advantage.
While Mercedes brought an engine upgrade on a track where Ferrari are expected to show their hand, the outfit doubts it’s capable of knocking Ferrari off top spot in terms of engine power.
“For sure the engine upgrade is very welcome,” said Bottas, speaking about the new engine upgrade Mercedes are brining to Canada.
“That is thanks to all of the work at Brixworth.
“Obviously it’s something we need to see physically how it actually behaves on-track and everything. We also need to make sure that it’s reliable.
“We’re expecting already from a fresh engine a tiny bit of power gain, but we’re expecting a small step forward.
“We don’t think it’s quite yet enough to match Ferrari’s straight-line speed. They will have the upper-hand on that, but we have our strengths in other areas. I look forward to feeling it on Friday.”