With a dreadfully bad season last year – a team with 16 Formula 1 constructor championships in the bag – Scuderia Ferrari seems to be getting back into their groove this season. In 2020, Ferrari finished sixth on the constructer’s championship table giving up invaluable space to many mid-table teams like McLaren, Renault and even the Racing Point. With an abysmal performance throughout the year, people had started discounting Ferrari’s odds of returning to the top half of the table, at least any time soon. The team’s drivers, management, technical capabilities and above all the team principal, Mattia Binotto took blame for the dwindling performance and lack of results throughout the year.
Is Binotto the right man for the job? – the question that remained the highlight for all discussions related to Ferrari last year. With obvious car problems, unhappy drivers and furious fans the pressure last year was intense for Binotto. The undeniable decline in performance was certainly linked to a reduction in engine power after concerns over its legitimacy led to an investigation and ensuing rule clarification from the Federation of International Automobiles (FIA).
Fortunately, things don’t look too bad this year for the Prancing Horse. The Ferrari SF21 seems to be doing the trick for them this year, proving wrong the critics who didn’t expect a bounce-back this soon. Considering merciless restrictions of the token system in place, limiting car development, Ferrari’s improvement on that draggy SF1000 is commendable. To pick and choose from a long list of homologated parts must not have been easy for the technical teams but they decided to focus on the rear end of the car; a remodeled gearbox and adjusted rear suspension was the key. Apart from adjusting the gearbox casing, 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 all-improved power unit.
Apart from car upgrades there has been change in personnel this year at Ferrari as well – No it is not Binotto. The four times world champion, Sebastian Vettel, who occupied a seat in a five numbered Ferrari car, has now moved to Aston Martin (previously known as the Racing Point). Vettel’s contract expired at the end of 2020 and was somewhat an ideal time for Ferrari to move to a younger driver to pair with the very talented Charles Leclerc, who himself is just 23 years old. Ferrari opted for an adaptable young driver, Carlos Sainz Jr, in anticipation of how formula 1 will change with new regulations and a budget cap, expected in 2022.
With Sainz now teamed up with Leclerc, Ferrari has its youngest team in decades. Sainz has proved to be a very solid replacement so far. He has been pacey, resilient and has been using his experience pretty well according to fans and even Binotto. Sainz’s stint at the Hungarian Grand Prix (GP) was a clear indicator of his evident comfort level with his new teammates, where we saw him discussing and arguing race strategy with his team over the radio. He went ahead with his advised strategy and scored his second podium already for Ferrari at the Hungarian GP.
“We have the best pairing in the field,” Binotto believes.
With the depressing performance of the 2020 season already in the rear-view mirror for Scuderia Ferrari, fans can expect their beloved team to return to its usual position at the top half of the table in 2021. At the summer break this year, Ferrari is tied with McLaren for the third place in the constructor’s table with 163 points each.