The sparkling performance of the Haas and Alfa Romeo teams in Bahrain, together with the very troubled weekends for McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams, has led to speculation about the relative strengths of the Ferrari and Mercedes power units. By extension it has led to the question of how much of the difference between the Ferrari and Mercedes works cars might be down to their respective power units.
The adaptation to E10 fuel has not been straightforward and Mercedes is understood to have lost significant power in that transition. Conversely, Ferrari has made significant gains but with the proviso that it was around 20bhp down on Mercedes last year – so there was greater scope for gains.
The initial implication of the GPS traces from Bahrain qualifying were that on ultimate power the four engines were actually quite close – but the Ferrari did seem to deliver very good low-speed performance. The picture is muddied by the fact that Mercedes, McLaren, Williams and Aston Martin all seemed to have aerodynamic problems in Bahrain, whereas the Haas and Alfa Romeo appeared to be working well.
“We know how far behind we are on chassis here,” said Toto Wolff, “and also I think we are over-winged, which is just because of a shortage of parts. Let’s see where we are when we have better chassis performance.”