In-season development has allowed Ferrari to catch Mercedes in terms of performance of the power unit, claims latter’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
Mercedes ushered into the V6 turbo era in 2014 as the pacesetters, with a major chunk of their gains coming from the engine department based in Brixworth. However, Ferrari made major leapways over the winter, and have closed the gap further this year.
And Lauda believes with the latest version of their power unit that was introduced at Monza, Ferrari’s engine is now on par with that of Mercedes.
"This year to do better than Ferrari we had to make a lot of progress," Lauda told Italy's Autosprint magazine.
"Since they introduced the updated engine at Monza, I would say that they matched us in terms of power and efficiency. The 20bhp advantage we had is now gone. Now we are at the same level of power: we know for certain because of the reference we have."
The Italian team discovered a loophole in the regulations, which allows manufacturers to develop their engines during the season, within the scope of a token system.
Lauda fears that the rule of diminishing returns will hurt Mercedes, possibly ending their reign at the top as early as next year.
"The picture will change in 2016, because in F1 you can't sustain your technical superiority for a long time. We know the others can catch up. When you are at the limit of the performance of the regulations it's difficult to make big progress, which is easier for those behind us,’’ he added.
by Rachit Thukral