The subject of much speculation, the Ferrari V6 is revealed here in images and reveals some of its secrets…
A MYSTERIOUS ARCHITECTURE…
Designed under the direction of Moden-born Enrico Gualtieri, the 066/7 engine put the Prancing Horse back in the saddle. Deviating significantly from the 2021 block, it is equipped with a new combustion chamber which would allow extremely short ignition times, in order to compensate for the regulatory limit on fuel pressure set at 500 bars.
According to Mattia Binotto, Ferrari chose innovative solutions and took risks on this engine “very different from the previous one”, which will be used for four seasons. V6 turbo hybrids are frozen until the end of 2025, without permission to redesign them.
Its architecture remains mysterious: are the turbine and the compressor separated (as on all other engines)? Or does the turbocharger form a compact unit installed at the rear of the block? Much has been said about this issue, without having any real clues. We now know a little more thanks to our exclusive images of the Italian V6 taken during the last Hungarian Grand Prix.
Let’s collect some clues by examining our pictures. As seen in the image above, the element at the rear (the turbocharger, indicated by a yellow arrow) is relatively large. Its size is comparable to that of the 2018 Renault V6 turbocharger, which would suggest that its architecture has remained conventional. Another clue going in this direction: the axis connecting the turbine to the compressor (here roughly materialized by a broken line) is located too high for the strange element visible at the front, indicated by a blue arrow, to be the compressor…
… BUT A FEW INDICATORS
In profile, we notice that the duct which connects the air inlet (above the pilot’s helmet) to the compressor is oriented towards the rear. Therefore, it can be assumed that the compressor is not placed at the very front of the block, as on the power units with disjoint architecture (mercedesHonda and Renault since this year).
But where would it be located, then?
First hypothesis: it could be separated from the turbine and housed inside the V, which would imply that it is very small (or even of the “axial” type, as was believed for a time for the Honda V6 of 2015?).
In fact, the great acceleration capacity of the F1-75 would come in particular from a smaller compressor (therefore offering a faster response) and an electric deployment favoring acceleration at the start of a straight line (where the V6 Red Bull Honda relies on its bigger turbo to be fast at the end of the straight section). That said, even a compact compressor takes up space: would there still be enough for the MGU-H? We will keep in mind that Honda gave up its mini-compressor (housed in the V formed by the cylinder banks of its “size zero” engine) and that a compressor that was too small (chosen to favor aerodynamics) deprived the Italian horsepower engine in 2014.
Second hypothesis, more plausible at this stage: the compressor is attached to the turbine, as has been the case since 2014. The size of the turbocharger supports this interpretation, supported by several generally well-informed experts (including the eminent Mark Hughes).
THE INTERCOOLER, THE REAL INNOVATION?
But then what is the circular piece at the front, visible in the image above? Well, it could well be the intercooler, the heat exchanger that cools the air that has just been compressed.
Its appearance recalls the cylindrical shape of the “pre-coolers” developed by the English company Reaction Engines. These circular radiators were mentioned by several colleagues about the Mercedes W13, whose compactness of the sidepods would be explained by the use of technology from aviation, as suggested by FOM technical director Pat Symonds . In this case, the architecture would remain traditional, while the design of the intercooler, to say the least original, would save space.
However, several questions remain unanswered. How does the compressed air get to the intercooler? On previous Ferrari engines, a central duct spanned the block to dip down to the intercooler, but there is no such tube on the current V6. This duct must therefore be between the cylinder banks, but the volume available at this location is not unlimited (the duct leading the air to the compressor and the MGU-H are already there, etc.).
POWERFUL, BUT NOT ONLY
If our postulate of a turbocharger installed at the rear of the block is confirmed, this would make Ferrari the only engine manufacturer to retain a conventional architecture. This does not prevent the 066/7 unit from being considered in the paddock as one of the best engines on the grid. And not just from a raw power point of view, as Valtteri Bottas, who switched from the Mercedes power unit to the V6 Ferrari this season, points out:
“Honestly, there is no big difference [avec le moteur Mercedes] in terms of power, entrusted the Finn to our colleagues from The Race. This means that they have made great progress compared to last year! On the other hand, there is a big difference in terms of flexibility (“drivability”). This aspect is one of the strengths of this engine. When exiting corners, it gives more options on which gear to select, etc.”
Powerful and easy to handle, the 066/7 block is unfortunately fragile. In Spain and Azerbaijan, Charles Leclerc had to retire due to engine failure, while Carlos Sainz’s V6 exploded at the Austrian Grand Prix. No doubt the Scuderia took risks to achieve the best performance, knowing that, if the engines have been homologated since 1er March until the end of 2025, modifications are still allowed to improve reliability.
Is that why during the design of its engine, the Cavallino was more focused on performance than on the robustness of its horsepower? Faced with the lack of power of Italian engines since 2020 (following a compliance imposed by the FIA), a strong remedy was needed.
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