With a terribly bad season last year – a team with 16 Formula 1 constructors’ championships in the bag – Scuderia Ferrari seem to be getting their groove back this season. In 2020, Ferrari finished sixth in the constructors’ standings, leaving invaluable space for many mid-table teams like McLaren, Renault and even Racing Point. With an abysmal performance throughout the year, people had started to discount Ferrari’s chances of returning to the top half of the table, at least anytime soon. The drivers, the management, the technical capabilities of the team and especially the team principal, Mattia Binotto, blamed the drop in performance and the lack of results throughout the year.
Is Binotto the right man for you? – the question that remained the high point of all Ferrari-related discussions last year. With car problems evident, disgruntled drivers and furious fans, the pressure last year was intense for Binotto. The undeniable drop in performance was certainly linked to a reduction in engine power after concerns about its legitimacy led to an investigation and clarification of rules by the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
Fortunately, things are not looking too bad this year for the Prancing Horse. The Ferrari SF21 seems to do the trick for them this year, proving critics wrong who didn’t expect a rebound so soon. Given the ruthless token system restrictions in place limiting the development of the car, Ferrari’s improvement on this trailing SF1000 is commendable. Choosing from a long list of homologated parts must not have been easy for the technical teams, but they decided to focus on the rear of the car; a redesigned gearbox and tuned rear suspension were key. As well as tweaking the gearbox housing, creating deeper side channels in the aerodynamically critical area around the diffuser, Ferrari changed a few more parts that didn’t cost any of those precious tokens like the fully upgraded power unit. .
Apart from car upgrades, there have been personnel changes this year at Ferrari as well – No, it’s not Binotto. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who took a seat in a five-number Ferrari car, has now joined Aston Martin (formerly known as Racing Point). Vettel’s contract expired at the end of 2020 and was sort of the perfect time for Ferrari to step up to a younger driver to team up with the very talented Charles Leclerc, who himself is only 23. Ferrari has opted for an adaptable young driver, Carlos Sainz Jr, in anticipation of how Formula 1 will evolve with new regulations and a budget cap, expected in 2022.
With Sainz now paired with Leclerc, Ferrari has its youngest team in decades. Sainz has proven to be a very solid substitute so far. He was quick, resilient and used his experience pretty well according to fans and even Binotto. Sainz’s time at the Hungarian Grand Prix (GP) was a clear indicator of his obvious comfort level with his new teammates, where we saw him chatting and discussing race strategy with his team over the radio. He continued with his advised strategy and has already scored his second podium for Ferrari at the Hungarian GP.
“We have the best duo on the pitch” Binotto believes.
With the depressing performance of the 2020 season already in Scuderia Ferrari’s rear view mirror, fans can expect their beloved team to return to their usual position in the top half of the table in 2021. At the summer break of this year Ferrari is tied with McLaren for third place in the constructors’ table with 163 points each.