the most famous team in Formula One finished the campaign sixth in the Constructors’ standings, only 14 points ahead of AlphaTauri-Honda. Individually, the Monegasque racer ended the year eighth in the Drivers’ championship, while Vettel scored just 33 points. However, in 2021, there’s optimism that the Scuderia will improve as they seek to re-establish themselves as a top-three team. So, let’s consider whether Ferrari’s pace will return this year.
Braving a New Power Unit
Following their undeniable power struggles in 2020, Ferrari have since overhauled their engine in an effort to regain much-needed pace. From the 2020 season-opener in Austria, the SF1000 was aerodynamically fragile, which had a significant knock-on effect on straight-line performance throughout the rest of the season. Aside from focusing on the car’s aero package, the Prancing Horse altered various elements of the thermal properties and the electric powertrain. Not only that, but Ferrari are also bringing forward the introduction of their new cylinder head. Theoretically, this forward-thinking component will aid fuel atomisation.
Currently, the 16-time constructors’ champions’ new power unit is exhibiting “very promising” figures, according to the team’s principal, Mattia Binotto. While Ferrari's focus is on bridging the gap between themselves and Mercedes and Red Bull, their sights are also set on 2022. With drastic regulation changes coming into effect, Autosport report that the Scuderia are working on an innovative engine design that could take them back to the sport’s pinnacle.
Speculation of a Season-Long Punishment
Fascinatingly, Ferrari’s poor performance in 2021 may not have only stemmed from below-par aerodynamics. In 2019, the Prancing Horse undoubtedly had the fastest car on the grid, and that was evident from their race-winning triumphs at pace-friendly circuits like Monza and Spa. However, Binotto’s team endured punishment for fuel breaches within their power unit. Interestingly, Mika Salo, a former F1 driver, stated that Ferrari had to use less fuel in 2020 because of this violation.
Although speculation, if Salo is correct, then Ferrari’s power struggles may not extend into 2021. In turn, this will also impact both Alfa Romeo’s and Haas’ pace in the upcoming season. Because of this, there’s perhaps reason for optimism regarding the Prancing Horse’s potential this year. Combined with their intricate alterations to the power unit, Ferrari may once again find themselves towards the front of the grid. Even though they won’t be the favourites for the team title in 2021, the Maranello-based manufacturer are 14/1 in F1 betting to win the Constructors' Championship this year, as of March 5th.
Capable of Surpassing Expectations
While many expect Ferrari to improve in 2021, there’s little certainty over the scale of their pending developments. As the Scuderia have focused on their engine during the off-season, they have may now have the power to compete with Red Bull and, at a push, Mercedes. Because of that, Carlos Sainz and Leclerc could surpass all expectations on the track.