March 30, 2016

What's this about Ferrari using Diesel technology in their F1 engines?

Following the Grand Prix in Melbourne, there was a bit of a buzz on the internet about what might have been the secret behind Ferrari's rocket start.

No, no, Ferrari's not rolling coal
It was suggested the Scuderia might have used a page out of diesel technology to get the extra boost which allowed Vettel and Raikkonen to get away from  Rosberg and Hamilton.

Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) is a system that, like diesel, relies on compression rather than a spark for ignition.   The thought over at Reddit was that this allows for the faster engine response.

Now, objectively, Vettel did get a great start but he jumped Hamilton because Lewis had a lousy one. It is far more likely the Ferrari clutch system (software included) is better.  On the dirty side of the track, Rosberg and Raikkonen were pretty even down the straight.  Kimi was clever in placing his car in the right spot to take advantage of Rosberg and Hamilton tripping over each other and got ahead.

So, not so sure about this Ferrari "Magic Bullet"  theory.

Still, intrigued, we put the question to our friend currently working in an F1 engine department.

Without giving away more than he had to, he confirmed the theory is, if  not quite right,  somewhat on the right track:  Mercedes have had an super clever ignition system, certainly in 2015 and possibly even in 2014 and Ferrari have implemented a similar system this year.  

What precisely that system is he would not reveal (maybe it involves... "lasers"?)  but it's not HCCI.   Ferrari spent the majority of its engine tokens to implement it and presumably Renault, who has used almost none so far,  will do the same by early summer.

Let's see what Bahrain will bring.

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