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Ferrari: New FIA sensor not the reason for performance slump

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SUZUKA, Japan -- Maurizio Arrivabene says a new FIA sensor fitted to the Ferrari's battery is not the reason for Sebastian Vettel's recent drop in form.

Vettel's championship challenge has unravelled at the last two races after he finished third at the Singapore and Russian Grands Prix while title rival Lewis Hamilton went on to win both races.

The results were something of a surprise after Ferrari appeared to have gained performance advantage over Mercedes prior to Singapore. Rival teams had often referenced Ferrari's impressive straight-line speed as the reason for its advantage earlier in the season, with GPS traces showing that the Ferrari was gaining a significant advantage on sections of the track where it was likely deploying power from its battery via its hybrid system.

Speculation about how Ferrari runs its hybrid system has been rife since the start of the year and its battery was subject to an FIA investigation between the Azerbaijan and Monaco Grands Prix. The FIA was aware that Ferrari was treating its battery as two halves rather than a single unit like other power unit manufacturers but found nothing illegal with how it was deploying energy.

At the time, the FIA said it had a rather "painstaking" way of monitoring the battery and that it would work with Ferrari to simplify it. Ferrari team principal Arrivabene has now confirmed that a second sensor has been fitted to the battery, but wanted to spike speculation that the sensor was the reason for Ferrari's dip in form.

"Our battery layout, it's quite complex, so we agreed with the request that we had from the FIA to work together with them and to facilitate their work, and we add a second sensor," Arrivabene told RTL. "But it doesn't change in any case the performance of our car."

Asked if Ferrari had suffered a loss of straightline speed as a result of the new sensor and the way it has to run its power unit, he added: "Nothing to do with the speed in the straights, because in Singapore and in Russia, we were quicker. We were ahead in Singapore and as I said before in Russia we were nearly like our main competitors."

Arrivabene also raised concerns about how the second sensor, which was first reported about by Auto Motor und Sport, had become public knowledge.

"Despite that, I think it's strange that everybody knows about the second sensor, because I said that our battery is quite complex, but it's also an intellectual property of Ferrari. I hope that because everybody knows about the second sensor, in future, everybody, they're not going to be informed about our project. That could be a serious matter."