how Ferrari took advantage of the new rules to get back to the top

Ferrari’s Cavallino sat up straight. The Scuderia, which has been half-mast for two seasons, is in full resurrection at the start of the championship, which ends in Melbourne this weekend. After two races, he is in the lead of the constructors’ standings and Charles Leclerc is at the top of the drivers. The well-born F1-75 has largely benefited from the regulation change introduced in 2022 to return to the center of the game.

Ferrari’s DNA is to win the team principal of the Mattia Binotto stable hammers anyone who will listen. Arriving at the wheel of the Scuderia in January 2019, the Italian quickly understood that the Maranello team had a special status in the world of F1. According to Sunday’s results, Red does not have the same meaning. Red with happiness when he smiles. Red with embarrassment as the Italian F1s stumble across the carpet.

With three successes and 18 podiums in the year of his introduction, the Ferrari boss was on an upward trajectory. A year later, he shaved the walls after finishing sixth in the constructors’ standings, his worst place since 1980. In this frenetic development race behind the untouchable Mercedes, the team had gone too far in interpreting the rules.

In the eye of the storm of the FIA ​​and other teams, the Scuderia is developing an ingenious system to charge the Italian engine. A secret agreement signed between the International Federation and the Prancing Horse will reconcile the Ferraris and, on the track, the loss of more than fifty horsepower from the Mercedes engine. A ball to drag for the Reds, as good as his failed SF1000. It was at the heart of this nightmarish season that the Italian team decided to embark on its reconquest mission.

Even if it means dragging yourself into the middle of the pack without overtaking the competition and undergoing any humiliation, you might as well launch your design agency directly on the new regulations that should radically change F1 from 2021, and eventually become postponed to 2022. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ferrari has had two seasons to polish their comeback. To reclaim a world title that has eluded him since 2008 (constructors), Ferrari has used the year 2021 as its first launch pad. It started with its new engine introduced in the second half of the season.

Knowing that the engines will be frozen for four years from this year, it was of course important to start with a power unit at the level of our rivalsexplained Binotto before the first Grand Prix in Bahrain.At the end of last season we were 20-25 hp behind, so the first goal was to close that gap.

In view of the two qualifying sessions in Sakhir (pole for Leclerc) and Jeddah (2nd and 3rd time), the Italian bike is back at the level of the first and could have even surpassed it. Even the customer teams, which have been relegated to the back of the grid in recent seasons and are now regularly in the top 10, are benefiting, such as the Haas and Alfa Romeo.It is certain that we are not behind, and maybe even a little ahead. But this is not a hard conclusion‘, Binotto tempered.

On the chassis, whose regulations have been thoroughly changed, the progress is significant. The F1-75 is quite bold in its design and its engineering choices, the most visible parts of which are the pointed nose, hollow sidepods and air intakes. Choices validated very quickly on the track. With nearly 800 laps completed at Fiorano this winter, the car has shown welcome reliability. †It’s definitely one of the easiest prep I’ve had for a season.“, acknowledges the Monegasque Charles Leclerc.”No big problems [alors que]especially with such a new project you always expect to find obstacles.”

Above all, Ferrari very quickly pinpointed the “porpoise” phenomenon (single-seater bouncing on the straights) that all teams were confronted with. †We made some changes for thatjust indicated Binotto who is now considering optimizing his car. These cars are so different from the past that you have to understand them before you realize their full potential. It’s underway. There is more to get out of the current package. That’s what we’re focusing on before we bring developments over the course of the season.

Thanks to its double in Bahrain, its first win since 2019 and its double podium in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Ferrari now has a narrow margin over the competition before making the first changes to its single-seaters. A comfortable position as the budget cap limit restricts the teams in their evolutions during the season. In this game, the advantage always lies with whoever keeps something underfoot. Mercedes understood that very well. But perhaps the Silver Arrows have found their master this season. They monopolize the stages and they are red.

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