The Ferrari SF70-H may be the strongest F1 car during the race so far this year, but it isn’t without its issues. The Italian team used six turbochargers between its two cars in the first three races of 2017, but the team insists swapping the turbochargers is a strategic play to ensure success in the early stages of the season.
The turbocharger is one of four engine components in which drivers will receive grid penalties if they use more than four of them throughout the course of the season. Both Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have each used three turbochargers so far this year, leaving just one a piece for the rest of 2017. The old turbochargers can be reused if they are not damaged, however, and Ferrari says the changes have only been precautionary thus far.
“At the moment we are facing the first races with some small problems that we are analysing and the changes we have done so far for the engine and the turbo are just to be cautious because we are in a strategic part of the season and we don’t want to make a mistake at the moment,” Ferrari engine boss Luigi Fraboni told ESPN. “What we have seen at the moment is that we should be within the fourth element of each component of the power unit up until the end of the season.”
The team is still at a slight disadvantage in regards to its turbocharger, however, as the four turbochargers allowed also include improved versions of the turbo teams may introduce mid-season. This leaves Ferrari with just one slot left to introduce a developed turbo, so it’s likely the team will cycle its three swapped turbos before introducing an updated version later on in the year.
“Of course if you have used three turbo it means you are missing one,” Fraboni added. “Then we will do the development we can for the missing one, but for us it was important to do what we have done for the moment, as I said, for a strategic reason.”