Wolff: Recent Ferrari engine gains ‘an outlier’

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says that Ferrari’s recent gains in power unit performance are “an outlier” given that the engines of rival suppliers normally converge under stable regulations.

The run of four consecutive pole positions for Charles Leclerc since the summer break has indicated how much progress the Italian team has made in what is the sixth season with the current rules.

In qualifying in Russia, the Monegasque driver gained over 0.7s on second starter Lewis Hamilton just on the straights.

“It’s certainly an outlier,” said Wolff. “Because normally with maturing regulations to find these big steps is certainly unusual. As it stands it has become an engine formula.

“We all need to understand how we can increase our engine performance and at the same time find the right power/drag ratio, and understand the tyres. It’s a combination of things.

“I think we had situations where Ferrari was very strong [in the past], but at the moment they just crush everybody with their straightline speed, so it’s very difficult to compensate that round the track. This is a situation that we need to overcome.”

Wolff says that team has to consider all aspects of its power unit package as it tries to close the gap to Ferrari.

“I think we have to look at all areas of the engine,” he said. “Is there some innovation that we should have spotted?

“Certainly in terms of the combustion engine the thermal efficiency gains that you can achieve from year to year we’re speaking about not several percent, we are speaking about something that’s below a percent.

“That’s something which you can physically extract from year on year development, and with mature regulations like we have now, probably even less, so you need to be clever, innovative on all the other bits in the engine, whilst adhering 100% to the regulations.

“I think on pure performance, there is not a lot to come. I think you’ve just got to acknowledge that there is a certain gap that is almost uncatchable, but we’ve got to do an even better job of putting a good chassis on the track, and understanding the tyres, and running the right race strategy.

“I think this is where our opportunities lie. Clearly with their kind of power unit performance we shouldn’t be expecting to dominate the coming weekends.”

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