Ferrari has received a double boost on the Formula 1 engine front for 2018, with confirmation on the dyno that it has hit reliability targets, plus encouraging results from work on a new cylinder head concept.
With F1 drivers limited to just three engines for the entire 2018 season, there has been a major focus among the sport’s manufacturers this winter on proving their engines can last the required seven race distances.
The increased endurance needs of the new engines mean that Ferrari has elected to start the campaign with an evolution of last year’s 063 power unit – which suffered a spate of unexpected reliability problems late in the season.
But work on the engine has been intense because of subtle tweaks to the rules, which have included a further clampdown on oil burn.
Teams are now limited in the type of oil they can use, and must provide the FIA will detailed readings throughout each race weekend, as part of an effort by the governing body to prevent them using oil for power-boost reasons.
The focus on reliability means Ferrari has stepped away from doing anything radical with its engine at this stage of the campaign – as its target instead has been to deliver the longer life without any power drop from last year.
However, Ferrari’s engine chief Corrado Iotti is believed to be leading a programme to introduce a new cylinder head later in the season – which will help in the pre-combustion phase of the engine cycle and could especially aid the manufacturer in challenging Mercedes’ advantage with ‘magic’ qualifying modes.
The engine will not feature the alloy steel piston that had been proposed at the end of last year under previous engine chief Lorenzo Sassi, but was abandoned in the early summer after it failed to deliver what had been hoped.
Sassi left the team in the wake of this situation, and is set to start work at Mercedes soon, following his enforced period of gardening leave. He could hand the Brackley-based outfit some vital inside knowledge of Ferrari’s progress on the engine front in recent years.