So why has there been so much talk about the Ferrari car this weekend ahead of the Monaco GP?
Behind the scenes at F1’s most famous race, the threat of post-qualifying or post-race protest hangs in the air over the alleged potential use of the Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) of Ferrari and their customer teams, Haas and Sauber.
The FIA, the sport’s governing body, have investigated Ferrari’s ERS, both in Baku and Barcelona and found it to comply with the regulations.
But rival teams are suspicious of the Ferrari power unit’s prodigious straight-line speed and have suggested they could be using electrical power at a higher rate than the rules permit.
The issue has rumbled all weekend in the paddock – although Ferrari insist they have not broken the rules and the FIA have confirmed no evidence of wrongdoing has been found.
So what’s being checked?
Uniquely, Ferrari’s energy store in their power unit contains a twin-battery configuration.
There’s nothing inherently suspicious in that, indeed Ferrari’s ERS architecture has been the same since the start of the hybrid era in 2014. The concern from Ferrari’s rivals is that the twin battery enables them to allegedly increase the energy flow to the engine beyond the permitted 120-kilowatt allowance.
How have the FIA responded?
Sky Sports has learnt that the governing body have been monitoring the Ferrari power unit since the Bahrain GP.
It’s important to reiterate they have uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing or illegality.
But at this weekend’s Monaco GP, underway at 2.10pm on Sunday afternoon live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky One, an extra piece of hardware has been fitted to the Ferrari, reputedly at the FIA’s insistence, through which they can better monitor how the Italian team’s energy store operates.
The findings will then be analysed by the FIA before any judgement is made.
When’s the Monaco GP and how can you watch it?
What have Ferrari said?
Both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were asked about the rumours following practice with four-time world champion Vettel brushing off the speculation.
“It’s normal every now and then that there are rumours. This time it’s about us but in four weeks’ time probably it will be someone else.
“Ultimately I think it’s the FIA’s job to look after everyone and I think we trust them as much as the other teams trust them. For us it’s pretty straight forward, I think it’s more outside in terms of talk.”
And what have Ferrari’s rivals said?
Christian Horner, the Red Bull boss, and Toto Wolff, Mercedes, spoke about the issue on Thursday.
Wolff said: “We have legality topics come up regularly. Some are more controversial but it’s the daily business of the FIA to check what the teams do. It is the obligation of the teams to comply with the regulations and this is an ongoing process. I have great confidence with whatever issues are coming up, be it on the engine or the chassis, the FIA has been on top of it a lot. And as far as I understand this is a process that’s taking place as we speak and we will see what the outcome is.”
And Horner told Sky Sports F1: “If they were doing what’s been said, that would be very naughty – it would be akin to cheating your electricity metre.”
Privately, however, the rumblings of the teams in the Monaco paddock have been far more belligerent.
So what happens now?
Good question. One possibility is that a protest could be lodged against Ferrari or one of their customers following Sunday’s race by a rival team.
Or, the extra sensor placed within the wiring of the ERS could do its job and ensure nothing untoward could happen. Ferrari will be largely as competitive as they were before and everyone will be satisfied.
For the moment, however, it’s simmering in the background and nobody is sure just how much energy the story will have on Sunday night…
How to follow the Monaco GP on Sky F1 Saturday May 26 Sky F1 digital live blog 11am: P3 LIVE! (Build-up 10.45am) 2pm: Qualifying LIVE (Build-up 1pm) 3.40pm: The F1 Show LIVE! Sunday May 27 Sky F1 digital live blog 12.30pm: Pit Lane LIVE 1.30pm: On the Grid LIVE! 2.10pm: The Monaco GP LIVE!
The crown jewel in the F1 calendar returns and you can watch the Monaco GP on Sky Sports F1 and Sky One this weekend. Get Sky Sports F1.