If it is true that they say that the first step to overcome a problem is to accept its existence, Ferrari is already moving towards its recovery. Nobody in the ‘Scuderia’ trusts to win any of the 23 great prizes that make up the World Cup that this Sunday (17.00, Dazn) will roll in Bahrain, at least those that occur under normal conditions. But that is the most realistic approach if you consider that the most universal brand in the racing world, the one with the most World Cups (15), comes out of its worst season in Formula 1 in 40 years and does not win the title. of pilots since 2007 (Raikkonen). By way of catharsis, the manufacturer opted for freshness and gave a surprising swerve: he got rid of a four-time champion of the caliber of Sebastian Vettel and in his place added Carlos Sainz, who lands very hungry and with sharp fangs – he has not yet released his record of triumphs -, an open mind and a clear head, after two exercises at McLaren in which, in addition to establishing himself as one of the safest values on the grid, he had a fabulous time alongside Lando Norris. This winter, the Spaniard had only a day and a half to get the hang of his new car, much less time than usual. “I am not as prepared as Charles [Leclerc, su vecino de taller], but yes I am to the maximum of the possibilities that I have had within my reach ”, sums up Sainz (26 years old), who together with the Monegasque (23 years old) is the youngest couple in the Italian house in 53 years.
The good vibes that Madrid injects into the teams he passes through has nothing to do with the tensions and conflicts that others generate to force themselves to get their best version. According to the most direct testimonies, his accommodation within Ferrari in the three months that he has been there has been most natural. “Carlos is a great guy. I had never spent so much time with a teammate before starting, and the truth is that we get along very well, ”says Leclerc. That apparent good harmony that exists between them can be capital in the most immediate aspirations of Il Cavallino Rampante, in that search for himself through which he travels.
For track records and resources (in 2019 its budget was around 370 million euros), Ferrari should fight to win every year. However, at the current stage that is an illusion. In 2020, the red racing cars accumulated only three podiums, a baggage that placed the structure in sixth place on the table reserved for builders. The punch came early and was extremely hard, as Leclerc recalls: “As soon as we started, we realized that the reality of things was much worse than we expected.” And basically because of the engine, the most important component of the car and that any manufacturer always tries to show off. The car’s speed deficit on the straight and its high level of drag (drag) were too great an obstacle to overcome with the championship underway. In theory, that handicap has been minimized in the new SF21, at least according to the clues left by the preseason tests.
In Bahrain, the last round of 2020, neither Vettel nor Leclerc were able to get into the third sieve of qualifying (Q3). The top speed reached by the Monegasque on that occasion was three kilometers per hour slower than the one he registered in the first training session last winter, at the same Sakhir circuit. This callsign validates the information previously extracted from the factory test bench, which already indicated an increase in power in the engine designed for 2021. “I can assure you that we have gained power compared to last year. The problem is that the others, surely, have also done it ”, admits Sainz, who in the first practice sessions this Friday was fourth, tenths behind the best, Verstappen (Red Bull). “With the data in hand, the speed on the straight is now adequate,” says Mattia Binotto, the team director. If this improvement is confirmed, Ferrari would have solved the main weakness of its latest prototype, and that should allow it to confidently face the challenge ahead: leading the middle of the table.
Successes and failures in F1 are always measured by competition. No one runs alone, but faces others. In addition to Mercedes and Red Bull, who once again seem to be on a higher plane, Ferrari should play the place as the third best team with McLaren, Aston Martin, Alpine and Alpha Tauri, who in recent tests proved to be in good shape. Although it may seem a lie because of its cache and history, it will not be easy for the Maranello troop, almost more focused already on the 2022 car project, at which time the regulations will be turned upside down again, than in that of the season that starts this Sunday.