2021 has been a year of recovery for Ferrari after a disastrous 2020 season. Now with the new regulations coming, 2022 could be the year Ferrari are back to winning races consistently. Here’s why…

Full disclosure, I am a Ferrari fan, so maybe I’m just hopeful that my team will be back to winning races but there is a lot of buzz surrounding Ferrari’s return so let’s explain what’s going on.

It all started this season (2021) when Ferrari started winning pole and getting on the podium again. It’s been brilliant recovery this season after their worst performing season since 1980. Both drivers at Ferrari are fantastic and, for once, it seems that there isn’t actually a number one and two driver. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc are, at the time of writing, only split by 0.5 points in the drivers’ standings so how do you even pick who is the number one?

So that’s one thing to look forward to. Both drivers are set to return with Ferrari next year and with them have taken the experience gained from this year. This might mean Sainz will be the driver to watch next year as he gets more comfortable and experienced with Ferrari.

But how could we ignore the biggest reason why Ferrari are the team to watch next year? The sweeping 2022 rule changes and all-new cars. And I’m not the only one feeling optimistic.

Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff, told Speedweek (via GP Today), “I assume that Ferrari can fight for the world title in 2022…Ferrari has a strong driver duo. They have recovered from the weak 2020 season and gained significantly. Hopefully they will be at the front in 2022 against Red Bull, McLaren, us, Aston Martin and whoever. The more teams, the more interesting for the fans.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, echoed Wolff’s statement as he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, “It’s a big team with two very good drivers and I expect them to be a contender from next year. Their performance has improved, the engine too and they have a new power unit coming. They will be back.”

Mattia Binotto

So the other teams are convinced but what do Ferrari themselves think? Ferrari Team Principal, Mattia Binotto, said to F1 that progress is “certainly a lot advanced.” Their biggest focus is the power unit as it “will be brand new in concept and design,” added Binotto.

The development of the new power unit is being head by Wolf Zimmermann. The team have decided not to go for a split turbo next year. Instead, they’re focusing on the significant gains that can be found in the energy recovery’s electrical system and combustion technology.

Charles Leclerc told F1 that the new car “feels very different” when driving the simulations. But in Ferrari’s typical downplaying of their achievements, Leclerc stated, “it’s a question mark for everyone whether we are developing well or not… it’s such a different project, it’s very, very, very early days, so nobody knows where we are positioning ourselves compared to others.”

Jock Clear, Ferrari’s Senior Performance engineer, when asked on the Beyond the Grid podcast whether Ferrari will be competitive next year, he said, “It’s not difficult to predict, it’s impossible to predict… You can’t know what the opposition are doing, you have no idea what the other drivers are capable of. You only know what you’re capable of. You can only influence what you can do.”

It is clear though that Ferrari are putting most of their focus on 2022 going forward. Binotto isn’t even attending certain races that are quite far from Italy, like Brazil. He didn’t attend the Turkish Grand Prix to work on the team’s 2022 car. “The reason is, as you may imagine, especially Mexico and Brazil overseas, it’s a long trip. While here back in Maranello there is a lot to do, really much to do,” Binotto told Race Fans.

Carlos Sainz

“It’s an entire team to manage, both the chassis and power unit and the entire organisation. And we are, in term of 2022 development, certainly in a critical phase where time is getting closer and closer. So I’m happy to be here,” he added.

And why wouldn’t they do this? Because they’ve already proven themselves this year that 2020 was a one-off and that kind of performance won’t be repeated again. If they manage to take P3 this year, then that’s a victory for them. Even a P4 is an improvement over P6 in 2020.

But it isn’t just about the car. Ferrari have accepted that to be champions again it will take time. Ferrari are supporting Binotto to build a team and a facility that will create stability and, hopefully, constant progress.

Ferrari have four clear targets: be openminded, eradicate the blame culture, have leaders taking responsibility, and to work as a team. Binotto has said that he believes that F1 teams can no longer be run by one senior leader, modern F1 teams are just too big. That’s why Ferrari have restructured their technical department into four pillars: the chassis department, the racing team, the power unit team, and the supply train.

For this to be effective, each leader for each team can’t be worried that they’re going to lose their job when they get the big decisions wrong. Instead, they have to feel empowered in order to maximise their expertise in their area of speciality.

When asked about the culture change, Binotto told F1, “I can feel it. I can see it. The fact we are fourth [now third] is encouraging. It is showing that while we were a team in a difficult situation, with most of the car frozen because of the regulations, we have been capable of addressing some of the issues. There is still a gap to the best, but not a gap that is one single problem. It’s a sum of various aspects. If we look at each as a single issue – rather than one big problem – solving each of them becomes achievable.”

2022 might be a complete paradigm shift for Ferrari and I for one am looking forward to see all their work put into action.

But what do you think? Will 2022 be Ferrari’s year?

Speaking of F1, Nikita Mazepin is a driver completely out of his depth, check out his story here. 

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