Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is not expecting the 2021 car to suffer the straight line speed deficit it had last season, based on development and simulations over the winter.
Technical directives relating to the power unit resulted in Ferrari dropping from being a threat to Mercedes at many venues in 2019 – and having the strongest power unit– to becoming a midfield runner that finished sixth in the constructors’ championship last year. Binotto said the problems were caused by deficiencies across both the car and power unit, and that the indications from the off-season point to that the deficit being largely erased for 2021.
“I think last year the main issue was the speed on the straight lines, not only the power, but both power and drag,” Binotto said. “We’ve worked a lot both on the power unit and the car’s aerodynamics to reduce the drag of the car, and according to our simulations today, based on what we are seeing in terms of power output from the dynos, and the drag of the car from the wind tunnel too, I think we have recovered quite a lot of speed in the straight lines.
“So I’m expecting the speed not to be such an issue as it was. We hope to be competitive, but we’ll know it only when we are in Bahrain, because I 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’s both from the aerodynamic point of view and from the power unit point of view.”
With pre-season testing taking place next month over three days in Bahrain, Charles Leclerc is similarly reserving judgement, but said the information in front of Ferrari is promising.
“I think it’s very difficult to answer that one before the first race, to be honest,” Leclerc said. “Surely it looks like quite a good step, and I think there’s been a lot of work here. We’ve been here with Carlos (Sainz) since the beginning of the season, pushing quite a lot and seeing the improvements of the car, and for now it always looks positive on paper. But then we need to see what the others have done as a step, and where we are compared to them.
“So I am confident that the team is giving its best, (but I think) we will understand (the competitive order) at the first race.”
Sainz believes Ferrari’s improvement will only be judged against its rivals, rather than against the car performance of last season.
“Right now, honestly, it’s impossible to know,” Sainz said. “We know what we have done, we know what our simulations say, where we should be in terms of top speeds and drag and power etc – we obviously have all of those numbers – but without the numbers of our competitors in front of us, it’s almost impossible to predict where that is going to put us. So I’m happy and proud of the efforts of the whole team, I’ve seen good progress, but until we see what our rivals have done it’s going to be impossible to know if it’s enough or not.”