Formula 1 2022 – After 14 years of failures and excuses, Ferrari is finally one of the favourites

It’s time for Scuderia Ferrari to stop dwelling on its glorious past and restore its image, adding a new line to a record frozen since the 2008 Constructors’ title. season that has set up the prancing horse that sees its supporters at the top of a Grand Prix podium for the first time since Singapore 2019, two and a half years ago.

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The Italian company has been rampant in the past two years due to an unproven deception that led it to believe it was competing with the best references on the set. She paid with a 6th place in the 2020 World Championship for reducing the cost of her engine within the regulations – on 70 hp from the best V6 – in agreement (secret) with the International Automobile Federation, and she reached her McLaren’s goal to chase third place at the 2021 World Cup.

The Emilian “Reparto Corse” has thus avoided a new media crisis and a new palace revolution. For the latter, the timing did not lend itself to it anyway, if not to destroy the long and irreversible study process of the F1 75, the “rossa”, in line with the 360° technical revolution decided by the FIA.

False outsiders, real favorites?

Winter testing gave hope, even as we learned to be wary of lap times at Ferrari, as the memory of Reds world champions from the 2018-2019 off-season is still in everyone’s minds. During the first test session, in Montmelo near Barcelona, ​​Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz cracked the first places. The Monegask even finished in the lead for the second of the three days. “We are still the underdogs, not the favoritesrushed to temper Mattia Binotto, the unofficial team manager and technical director. It’s very hard to say where we stand in terms of performance and there’s no reason why last season’s leaders shouldn’t be the favourites. We will try to be at the front of the chasing peloton.” For real ? The best way to beat your rivals is of course to surprise them…

The fact is that the Ferrari’s competitive position has not gone unnoticed by the competition, and not without reason, as Red Bull team boss Christian Horner judged the Reds’ testing sessions. “very convincing” and that Max Verstappen estimated on the penultimate test day that “If we race tomorrow, Ferrari would win”† Would the budget cap have redistributed the cards, if not equalized the values? Not sure, as the hierarchy doesn’t seem to have evolved tremendously: Red Bull and Mercedes remain a priori ahead, with Ferrari ambushed.

“We want a lot more competition, but less dominance by teams with huge resources”recalls Ross Brawn, the sporting director of Formula 1 at Formula One Group, holder of the sports rights. “We always said it was an opportunity”, repeated Mattia Binotto. It is still a change of mind as in its history Ferrari has very often spent more than its rivals to achieve its goals. This was especially true under Jean Todt’s administration in the 1990s and 2000s.

In fact, Binotto does not say so, but he is forced to conform to a new reality that affects his team: they have just lost their historic title sponsor, a tobacco company, and they have fewer opportunities to proliferate in their projects.

The engine – aero comparison

It’s a bit of a dilemma at Ferrari, the story of the yin-yang duality: Montmelo’s promising lap times, less apparent during the second practice in Sakhir where the work continued, was accompanied by the problem of “pitching”, “pumping” or ” porpoises” to choose from, especially spectacular in the images of Leclerc that have made the rounds on social networks.

On the technical side, another question remains unanswered: what level is the V6 at? At Ferrari, we made the same observation as at Red Bull with the Honda, renamed Red Bull Powertrain Technology: the obligation to include 10% organic components (versus 5.75%) in fuel costs around 20 horsepower. Again, drivers have not complained, as Mercedes is said to have made a leap forward in power from 2021, just as Renault has yet to push its all-new block to its limits. The explanation? The flip side of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, the aerodynamics of a successful chassis would now be the trump card.

The track will make its verdict in two stages, on Saturday at Q3 in Sakhir, and even more so on Sunday at the 57 loops of the Bahrain Grand Prix, as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will then know if they are able to race their F1 75s. driving without exhausting yourself or injuring your back from taking the fields on the bumps or feeling “nauseous” as experienced by the Principality driver during pre-season testing.

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Leclerc and Sainz, opposing goals

The Scuderia drivers finally seem to have equipment capable of winning at least one of the 23 races on the 2022 calendar, not to mention drawing pole positions, as Charles Leclerc did last year. And from a personal point of view, everyone knows what to do. Get more regular by moving the settings slider where the Monegask needs it. In 2020, the Monte Carlo native has sometimes been too aggressive from this point of view, which paid off on Sunday. He found it more of the opposite in the first half of 2021, but he hopes to maintain the momentum from the second half of last season. By avoiding a few accidents that cost him fifth in the championship.

As for Carlos Sainz, the objectives are the opposite: with 15 consecutive points arrivals, the son of the double world rally champion gets the longest streak in this area and now has to make progress in Q3 (he was beaten) 14 times out of 22 in 2021 by Leclerc) to take over for good, after finishing world number 5, two ranks ahead of his teammate.

By each achieving their goals, they may have nothing to envy to the Mercedes-Hamilton-Russell and Red Bull-Verstappen-Pérez combinations.

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