Ferrari took risks by introducing an updated power unit during this season to learn more about it for 2022, and team principal Mattia Binotto believes they are already paying off.
Charles Leclerc received the Ferrari upgrade at the Russian Grand Prix and was followed by Carlos Sainz at the last race in Turkey. Leclerc duly qualified fourth in Istanbul while Sainz carved his way through the field from the back of the grid to eighth, and Binotto says that although the main goal was not an immediate gain in performance, that it is an added bonus.
“As we said at the very start with Charles, when we introduced (the PU) in Sochi, the first objective is to try to increase our experience in the view of 2022,” Binotto said. “That’s why we introduced it as soon as possible, trying to rush it, taking some risks as well, but it’s all a risk assessment. Obviously for us it’s clear (that we need) to get mileage on-track and do our own experience before 2022 when the power units will be frozen.
“Really for us, that was the key. It is giving us a small advantage. I don’t want to quantify it on lap time, because it is track dependent. It’s not only pure ICE power, it’s energy recovery, so it’s a bit complex. But certainly it’s giving us an advantage.
“If I look at qualifying with Charles, he qualified with the fourth best lap time, if I look behind him, it was very close, and I’m pretty sure that a couple of positions would have been lost without that specification.”
Binotto says Ferrari can use the fight with McLaren this year as a learning experience for when the team is hopefully fighting for championships again in future.
“It’s certainly a target that we have already communicated to the team,” he said. “I think everybody is on board with that. It would be great to finish third. I think even working with the clear objective for the end of this season, it’s important for us because it’s a way of working under pressure and being trained to that. So yes, our objective is to finish third at the end of the season.”