“We will see more upgrades than in the 2021 season, but also fewer than in 2018 or 2019” Ferrari Race Director predicts how the 2022 Ferrari car upgrades would not be as aggresive like the 2018-2019 season upgrades
Laurent Mekies, Ferrari Race Director, talks about the little steps forward in preparation for the 2022 season, drawing analogies to how the 2021 SF21 was a significantly better race car than its predecessor SF1000.
After failing to secure a victory for the second season in a row since 1991-93, Ferrari looked to make good progress in 2021 with a few podiums and finishing ahead of McLaren for the third position in the Constructors Championship. “The battle for third place with McLaren has sharpened our senses for the time when we are back in the running for the title,” explains Race Director Laurent Mekies.
Development Tokens were spent on the rear of SF21
“We had to think very carefully about where to put the development token. We did it with the transmission housing and the rear axle. It was a change in aerodynamics for the sake of it,” Mekies reveals regarding using the Developmental tokens on the rear end of the car. SF1000 already had problems in the rear end and was majorly solved with the SF21.
If Ferrari were provided with more tokens, they would have touched the car’s front end, particularly the nose. The nose remained large and hefty compared to Mercedes, Red Bull, and McLaren.
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However, during pre-season testing, it was evident that the Ferrari SF21 outperformed the SF1000 in almost every category. The car had greater downforce, and the engine had more power. The targeted targets were met thanks to aerodynamic efficiency and stability.
A significant step was taken with the engine, but it proved insufficient because Mercedes and Honda had made further gains. That was one of the reasons why Ferrari retrofitted its hybrid system from the Russian GP. The gap is still not closed, but they have taken another step towards being the best in class. “Especially in our category, it was extremely close. Every tenth counted,” recalls Meckeslaure.
There will be more upgrades in the new generation cars than in 2021, but fewer than in 2018-19
Mekies expects visible differences in the cars in the first draft despite significantly less freedom for the engineers. “After six weeks, there will be fewer and by 2023 the cars will be quite similar. The window of what is feasible is simply much smaller than it is today.”
The new season start is an excellent opportunity for everyone to grow, but it also presents the possibility of regressing. The stakes are enormous, but the tension is as high as the new generations of cars never driven before.
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Talking about the comparison with other teams, Mekies stated: “We have no idea where we stand compared to the others. There is no reference. In the beginning, the loss of lap time was huge. We’ve caught up a lot of it, but no one knows if that’s enough. You put the car on the road in Barcelona and hope that it will do what the simulations and the wind tunnel promise.”
Car handling and Budget cap will play the most important role next season claims Ferrari
Above all, it is vital to find a good balance between the fast and slow corners. With the venturi principle, the downforce increases much more with speed than is the case with the current concept. “The cars will certainly be more difficult to drive. A lot will depend on the driver, how they adapt to it. We are well equipped with Charles and Carlos. Both reach their goal in different ways. Everyone is fast in their own way.”
Next year, the budget cap will play an even bigger role because it restricts teams from responding to design and development mistakes. “There is less money available for development during the season because the overall budget has also shrunk,” says Mekies. “We will see more upgrades than in the 2021 season, but also fewer than in 2018 or 2019.”