With the 2022 Formula 1 season – complete with revolutionary new cars – almost upon us, we’re looking at the two key questions facing each team. Next on the list: Ferrari.
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Will Ferrari shake off their chequered ‘new regulation’ history?
Two of F1’s biggest regulation overhauls in recent years – namely 2009 and 2014 – did not got well for Ferrari.
In 2009, fresh from winning the 2008 constructors’ and coming agonisingly close in the drivers’, F1’s move to ‘skinny’ aero rules for 2009 seemed to catch Ferrari on the hop.
The F60 didn’t achieve a top-10 finish in its first three races, and would win only once that year, compared to the eight victories of its predecessor – although Felipe Massa’s terrible Hungary crash, and Kimi Raikkonen’s ice cream-flavoured ennui, didn’t help matters.
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Ferrari would finish fourth in the constructors’ in 2009, a finishing position they matched in 2014, when F1 switched to V6 turbo-hybrid power units and Ferrari produced the uncompetitive F14 T – the first Prancing Horse to fail to win a race since 1993.
That was despite Ferrari boasting a crack technical team, featuring the likes of James Allison, Rory Byrne and Pat Fry, and an all-champion driver pairing of Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
Now, there’s no doubt that Ferrari have been steadily improving since their recent 2020 nadir, and there’s a tangible mood of positivity in Maranello. But Ferrari False Dawns are not unheard of – and after a strong end to 2021, the Scuderia will be hoping that there are no signs of regression when the rules change dramatically for 2022.
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Can the Scuderia return to their form of 2019?
Let’s be positive for a minute though. Yes, Ferrari made gains in 2021. But importantly, those gains were linked in large part to advancements in the power unit, advancements that can also be carried through into 2022. That’s a sturdy rock for the Scuderia to build their 2022-shaped house on.
Singapore 2019 was the last time a Ferrari took a victory in Formula 1, the team enjoying a purple ‘post-summer break’ patch that year that saw them take six poles on the bounce, and win three races. Getting back to that level of performance – of the red cars turning up at a race weekend and being counted among the favourites – is where Ferrari would dearly love to find themselves in 2022.
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Power unit gains have been mirrored by infrastructure improvements at Maranello, with the team’s state-of-the-art simulator now online and ready to help Ferrari develop their new car.
Add to that a driver line-up of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc that Team Principal Mattia Binotto, with some justification, has called the best in the business, and the hope is that, after a difficult couple of years, Ferrari are finally, properly, back.
Let’s see where those red cars – which will be launched on February 17 – find themselves when we get to Bahrain for the opening Grand Prix on March 20, eh?