Particularly its struggles in Mexico and its fight with Red Bull in Abu Dhabi highlighted how important engine performance was. This was done quietly by Ferrari.
Two factors were at play here: the first was that its power unit configuration, particularly its turbo size, was unsuitable for high-altitude races in Mexico and Brazil.
Beyond that, however, Mattia Binotto, principal of the Ferrari team, confirmed after the final race that the Maranello team had to reduce engine performance in the latter stages of the year due to concerns about reliability.
Earlier in the campaign, some spectacular and costly engine failures, such as Charles Leclerc’s crashes in Spain and Baku and Carlos Sainz’s fiery exit in Austria, necessitated a slight slowdown while a solution was found.
Binotto made the following brief reference: We had to reduce the power slightly. We had to do it, yes.
However, it has since come to light that Ferrari was able to get aggressive once more in Abu Dhabi thanks to its 066/7 engine, leading the team to believe that it had solved the earlier reliability issues.
Sources claim that the spark plug in the pre-chamber was identified as the power unit’s weak point.
This was the most recent version of Mahle’s TJI (Turbulent Jet Ignition) combustion system, which helped Ferrari close the power gap with Mercedes.
Mahle provided the system to Ferrari in 2016.
A system that has been optimized for the most recent generation of power units, which were homologated to be frozen until the end of the 2025 season, has made significant progress in the six years since then.
The fuel injector and spark plug are components of the TJI system. Both are housed in a well in the cylinder head, and they collaborate to help make as much power as possible.
The remaining fuel is distributed across the surface of the piston, with only 2% to 3% being injected into the pre-combustion chamber. The combustion agent in the chamber is lighter and contains more air than fuel, whereas the mixture inside the “cap” is particularly rich.
Additionally, given that teams are still restricted in terms of the amount of fuel they can use in a race (currently 110 kilograms), greater thermal efficiency is achieved for the same amount of fuel injected, which also equates to more power.
Ferrari pushed development to take advantage of the maximum pressure of the injection system, which reaches 500 bar as permitted by the regulations. The goal was for the system to discharge five times per engine cycle.
However, the extreme idea resulted in an increase in internal temperature, resulting in the spark plug suffering and eventually failing.
As a result, the engineers had to make changes to their mapping so that the spark plug wouldn’t exceed its limit. Meanwhile, a third-party supplier was working on bringing in new materials to make sure the part could handle the demands of the engine when it was running at maximum power.
Ferrari’s exhibition in Abu Dhabi recommends that the flash fitting issue appears to have been tackled, which will be a major lift to Ferrari’s expectations for 2023 when it realizes it can’t manage the cost of a rehash of its dependability hardships.