Ferrari believes it has recovered “quite a lot” of straightline speed that proved its major weakness last year on its 2021 Formula 1 car.
The Italian team slumped to sixth place in the constructors’ championship in 2020, its worst finish in 40 years, after it was hampered by an engine down on power and a car that was too draggy.
It meant the SF1000 was a sitting duck on the straights compared to its rivals, leading to the team to build an all-new power unit for this season.
Ferrari is confident that its work over the winter will see its power deficit addressed, with simulations showing the SF21 is in better shape than its predecessor.
Speaking at Ferrari’s team launch for 2021, team principal Mattia Binotto said: “I think that last year the main issue was the speed on the straight lines, not only the power but both power and drag.
“We’ve worked a lot, both on the power unit, and the car aerodynamics, to reduce the drag of the car.
“And based on our simulations today, based on what we can see in terms of power output from the dynos, and the drag of the car from the wind tunnel, I think that we recovered quite a lot of speed on the straights.
“So I’m expecting the speed not to be such an issue as it was. We hope to be competitive, but we will know it only when being in Bahrain, because it’s always relative to what the others are doing.
“But we believe that our car is certainly more efficient compared to the one we had last year, and when I’m saying efficient, again, it is both from the aero point of view, and from the power unit point of view.”
Despite his encouragement at the progress made with its 2021 car, Binotto insists it’s not realistic to expect Ferrari to close the gap to Mercedes and Red Bull in just one season.
“The way I’ve seen the car developing both in the windtunnel and on the dyno, I believe that somehow we made a significant effort,” he said.
“But you cannot know where you are if you are not on track, and I think that will be important for us. We need to be realistic. The gap to the best last year was very important, and not something that we can recover in a single winter.”
Binotto revealed Ferrari will shift its focus to the 2022 regulations early, with the Scuderia choosing to not devote much time developing the 2021 car over the campaign.
“Our focus during 2021 will be developing the 2022 car,” Binotto said. “That will be the main target, so we will not spend much time on the 2021 [car] during the season.
“There is always a balance, and it’s a choice that we need to make at some stage. But the 2022 car is such a big change that there is at least a minimum quantity of exercise and design and projects that need to be developed. So most of the effort will be there.
“That’s why how the car is handling at the very start of the season is very important, because it’s somehow the balance of performance we may see for the rest of the season.
“As I said, we obviously know how much we progressed in the windtunnel and with power. But more than that, what will be important is to see the track delivery. How really the car will be on track compared to expectations.”