«A Friday on two fronts ”is Ferrari’s summary of the free practice day at Istanbul Park. Leclerc finished just behind Hamilton, while Sainz has the 12th time. No particular problem: the Spaniard did not need to simulate qualifying, as he mounted the fourth power unit of the season and for this reason he will start from last position tomorrow. But the concept of “two fronts” also explains more: first, collecting data, honoring the season and contending for third place at McLaren; second, to design and produce a car that is finally competitive. It happens that the two fronts intersect. The hybrid system that will be used in 2022 runs on Leclerc’s single-seater in Russia and on Sainz’s in Turkey. Ferrari has accelerated production in order to subject it to the test of the track. “So far the results are what we expected”, leaks from the red box. Leclerc was the protagonist of a good comeback in Sochi two weeks ago, now we need a counter-proof with Sainz.
The engine is a crucial part of this regulatory revolution: the version that the teams will use in 2022 cannot be changed until 2026. This year the Cavallino’s engine pays around twenty horsepower behind those of Mercedes and Honda (Red Bull). A dozen have been recovered with the new hybrid, the rest will depend on the traditional thermal engine and the turbo.
There is an instructive precedent, 2008. In that year, Ferrari won its last title, the Constructors ‘World Championship, and lost the drivers’ championship by one point, won by Hamilton ahead of Massa. That season makes you think: Ferrari and McLaren fought for success until the last corner – literally – and found themselves late with the new rules. 2009 was thus the year of Brawn, while the following four years were all marked by Red Bull. History could repeat itself: sprints are thrilling and go down in history, but they have costs. How many resources are Mercedes and Red Bull itself spending in this shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, door after door between Hamilton and Verstappen, who are separated by just two points on the eve of the Turkish Grand Prix? Certainly too many in the budget cap regime. A team’s maximum spend is now capped at $ 145 million a year, about a third of what a top team spent in the good old days of unlimited budgets. Ferrari was cicada, it saved on the SF21 project because it couldn’t grow that much. She improved the engine and chassis, covered some flaws, moved up from sixth position to compete for third place. End.
2022 (and following) is both a challenge and an opportunity. Never in the history of Formula 1 has there been such a high leap towards the future. “Only a few bolts of the current car will remain the same,” they swear to Maranello. There is a return to the ground effect, a legacy of the seventies and eighties. It will serve to keep the cars glued to the asphalt without slowing down those who are chasing. The goal: to facilitate duels and overtaking – The wings will have the same purpose: to increase the cornering speed without disturbing others with the wake effect.
The new Ferrari, let’s call it SF22, is defined in its guidelines. «We are respecting times and objectives», has always assured the team principal Mattia Binotto. Baptism is four months away.