Ferrari has learned from its mistakes from the 2020 epidemic year. Despite homologation, the SF21 was a much better race car than its predecessor. Race Director Laurent Meckies looks back and ahead to the 2022 season.

Ferrari has ended the second straight season without a win. The last time this happened to the oldest team in Formula 1 was between 1991 and 1993. And yet Ferrari looks back with satisfaction on a season in which the downward trend of the 2020 season was stopped and reversed. Maranello team must claim to be able to drive wins and titles, but third place in the World Championship was a success in a first step. “The battle for third place with McLaren sharpened our senses for when we’re going to be back for the title fight,” said race director Laurent Meckies.

After the 2020 season, there was only one direction for Ferrari. “We had deficits everywhere,” Meckies admits in retrospect. “With the engine, the aerodynamics, the tire management. The correlation between the data and the race track was not right, the drivers did not have confidence in their car, which did not do what it was supposed to do. The preparation for the races did not go well, that is that we were always forced to react at the circuit.”

With so many mistakes, Ferrari wanted to turn everything upside down, but that was not possible due to the homologation of large parts of the car and the restrictions on the wind tunnel and engine test benches. “We had to think very carefully about where we put the development token. We did it with the gearbox housing and the rear axle. It was for the sake of a change in aerodynamics,” reveals Meckies.

If Ferrari had had a free hand, they would have touched the front part of the car as well, especially the nose, which is still relatively wide and bulky compared to Mercedes, Red Bull or McLaren. The pre-season test drives already showed that the Ferrari SF21 was better than the SF1000 in practically every area. The engine had more power, the car more downforce. The goals set were achieved in terms of aerodynamic efficiency and stability.

A significant step was taken with the engine, but this proved to be insufficient because Mercedes and Honda had made further gains. That was one of the reasons Ferrari upgraded its hybrid system from the Russian GP onwards. The gap is still not closed, but a step towards the best in class has been made again. “Especially in our category, it was extremely tight. Every tenth counted,” recalls Meckies.

he car was better in slow corners than in fast ones. This is underlined by Charles Leclerc’s two pole positions in Monte Carlo and Baku and Carlos Sainz’s second grid position in Sochi. The SF21 also generated sufficient tire temperature on routes with predominantly slow corners. That may also have been one of the reasons for the weakness of the car. “We often had higher tire wear than our opponents,” admits Meckies. 

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