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Vasseur, head of Ferrari F1, denies rumors of a 30 horsepower boost in the 2023 power unit



Vasseur Ferrari F1 2023

Frederic Vasseur, the newly appointed head of Ferrari, refutes claims that the team’s 2023 power unit will see a 30 horsepower increase, stating that such rumors are merely a joke and that all development efforts during the off-season have been focused on resolving the reliability issues that plagued the team in the previous season.

The difference between reliability and performance enhancements has been a contentious topic since the specification freeze last year.

The specification freeze was implemented in two stages, with the combustion engine specifications and the ERS-H frozen prior to the start of the season, and the electrical components, including the ERS-K, frozen in September. The regulations aim to keep these specifications in place for the duration of the current power unit formula until the end of 2025.

However, teams are allowed to make reliability changes as long as they are approved by the FIA technical department, which must be convinced that the changes are made “solely for the purposes of reliability, safety, and cost savings.” The challenge lies in determining the difference between performance and reliability. All teams and power unit manufacturers are well aware of how politically sensitive this distinction can be.

As Renault engine head, Bruno Famin, recently noted, “There is often a potential performance improvement behind a reliability issue. The boundary is not always clear. For example, if a team has a water pump problem, like we did in 2022, it’s clear that it’s a pure reliability issue and there’s nothing to gain by having a better or different water pump. But if the team needs to change the material of the piston rings, it’s possible that they’ll get something stronger that also increases performance. So, where is the limit? It’s not clear.”

In the case of Ferrari, the problematic component last year was the ERS-H. After Charles Leclerc’s power unit malfunction at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Ferrari ran the ERS-H less aggressively, which is thought to have resulted in a performance loss of about 0.2 seconds per lap.

This has been estimated to be a 30 horsepower reduction, but with a hybrid power unit, the lap time loss is not as linear as in the pre-hybrid era. The peak power reduction could be significantly less than that and still result in a loss of 0.2 seconds per lap due to less effective electrical deployment in the mechanical “gaps” of the internal combustion engine’s torque curve.


If the reliability issue has been resolved, in theory, the Ferrari power unit should return to the level of performance it exhibited prior to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last year, when its low-end power delivery was the strongest of the four power units.

Vasseur has dismissed the notion of a 30 horsepower increase, stating “I don’t know where these numbers are coming from, but it’s just a joke.”

However, this issue is not as straightforward as it seems. Firstly, if the 0.2-second difference is a result of torque delivery, it is clear that the 30 horsepower claim can be dismissed. Secondly, he will be naturally hesitant to acknowledge any performance improvement, given the regulations that aim to freeze engine performance are sensitive.

However, there is a subtle but crucial difference between gaining performance in general and gaining performance from the reduced level after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. If the reliability upgrades only bring the performance back to the level it was before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2022, is that considered as an increase in performance? Evidently, the FIA technical department has accepted Ferrari’s interpretation.

Both Ferrari and Alpine were upfront that their 2022 power units represented significant performance advancements, with the understanding that reliability issues could be addressed in the future but performance issues could not.

Vasseur states that initial results from dyno testing indicate that the reliability issue has been resolved.

“So far, it appears to be fine,” he states, “but the actual track conditions are a different matter.”


“A couple of problems that teams, not just Ferrari, were experiencing were caused by track conditions, such as bouncing vibrations. We will have a clearer understanding during testing in Bahrain,” he says.

Vasseur Ferrari F1 2023 Vasseur Ferrari F1 2023

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