Updated: Feb 9
In 2014 the Turbo-Hybrid Era of Formula 1 began, and Mercedes pioneered the split turbo engine. The design involved the separation of the compressor from the turbine, allowing for a more compact engine and a reduction in intake temperature. The benefits this offered the team played a part in their rise to dominance over the past six years. In 2017 Red Bull followed suit, opting for the split turbo engine design. And Renault has all but officially confirmed that their 2022 engine will also use this layout.
Written by Morgan Holiday, edited by Janvi Unni
However, The Race confirmed last week that Ferrari has opted to take the more traditional layout for their 2022 engine, making them the only engine supplier in Formula 1 to use this design. With the split turbo being used by the two dominant teams currently in the sport, why has Ferrari decided not to utilize it?
It’s been no secret that Ferrari has struggled the past couple of years, never quite achieving the results that they hoped for, and then falling drastically down the order in the 2020 season to finish 6th in the standings, their worst constructor’s finish since 1980. The Italian team has already done much to try to erase that embarrassing season from everyone’s memory with significant improvements to their power unit. They currently target a third-place finish in the constructor’s standings, where they currently sit only two points ahead of their closest rival Mclaren.
But the team has been clear throughout this season so far: 2021 is not their main focus. Nor should it be, with the engine freeze coming next season, which will last until 2025. If Ferrari truly wants to get results and score their first constructor’s championship win since 2008, they’re going to need a solid engine in place by the time it gets frozen.
So back to the question, why not choose the clearly effective split turbo engine? Because Ferrari clearly thinks the traditional layout will work better for them. What we’ve learned about Ferrari’s 2022 plans is that until recently, they’ve been working on two different development plans in order to determine what will be the most effective. As one of the most funded teams in Formula 1, Ferrari can afford to do this sort of thing, and apparently, it has paid off.
According to The Race, Ferrari has now chosen a development plan, which includes significant improvement to the intercooler system and the combustion technology. And no, this plan does not involve a split turbo engine.
So while Ferrari will very likely be the only engine manufacturer from 2022 onwards to not use a split turbo engine, it seems they have done the research and found that the traditional layout will not only suit them more but will also create a setup that can beat their competitors.
As Ferrari continue the heated battle for a third-place finish in the constructor’s championship for 2021, they’ll be spending most of their time and money on this new and innovative 2022 design. Hopefully, for the Scuderia, it will all pay off come the new era of Formula 1.