Why Ferrari and Sainz have more ammunition for their clean stick duel with McLaren

Mattia Binotto surprised at the press conference after the Istanbul GP: “It is certainly a goal that we have already communicated to the team, and everyone is on board with it. It would be great to be third, and even have a clear goal for the end of the championship. It is important to us because it’s a way of working under pressure and to be trained for it, we try in what is our objective for the end of the year. However, in Styria and Silverstone he had softened that goal set for his team before starting the season.Why was Binotto so resounding now when in summer he relaxed the initial goal of going from sixth in 2020 to third in 2021?

Perhaps because of the results in Sochi and Istanbul. Its drivers had already tested the latest specification of the Italian engine with comebacks from the back of the grid. Sainz and Leclerc reduced the difference to McLaren by ten points, and now they separate both teams only 7.5. A fast-paced carousel that will gain intensity in the remaining six races. If the duel between Red Bull and Mercedes has not yet launched all its missiles, neither the one of the third position between McLaren and Ferrari. But now the Scuderia feels it has more firepower. You only had to listen to Carlos Sainz at the end of the Turkish GP.

Sainz’s comeback confirmed Ferrari’s evolution with its engine, although the pit stop slowed down a better result

Is the third the target, or not?

“We can’t change much from the 2021 car, but with the new power unit we can still compete for third place in the championship. And I even think it should be our minimum goal ” Binotto warned at the traditional press conference at Christmas, “It is important to have a clearly stated ambition in mind.” It was therefore surprising that he lowered the bar months later after France’s unexpected hit with the tires. “Is it important for us to add points to McLaren? It is not, as I said at the beginning of the season our main objectives are to make sure that we move forward for next year and the following seasons, improving in all areas and learning from mistakes. like those in France. Third place is an objective, but not the main @. This medium repeated the same question to him at Silverstone and answered in the same way.

It is not frequent to hear the person in charge of a team lower the bar for the message he sends to his people and the impact in terms of leadership. Hence also the firm response of last Sunday. But Binotto also seems to have found other arguments with the new engine specification. “It gives us a little advantage, I don’t want to quantify it in lap time because it depends on the track, but it gave us an advantage, as the drivers say, to overtake. And if I look at the training sessions with Charles, everything was very tight in the times, I am sure that a couple of positions would have been lost without this specification ”, concluded Binotto.

Power, but also efficiency

The SF21 suffered from two fundamental problems: the degradation in the front axle and the lower power compared to its rivals. The first is still latent, but what does this evolution consist of? In principle, it is a specification delayed in 2021 because, as Binotto recalled, its main objective is to prepare the engine for 2022: “it is not only about power from the combustion chamber, it is energy recovery, something more complex ”. In other words, better recovery, efficiency and availability of that energy at key moments. Sainz confirmed it with the facts.

The satisfaction of the Madrilenian was evident. Sainz flew during the test. “It was an enjoyment, to be honest, perhaps one of the races I have enjoyed the most as a racing driver. When you have today’s pace and a track that allows you to overtake – especially in the water – it’s a pleasure. I was able to attack really hard, I did a lot of overtaking, and all on the track. It was not a matter of luck at any time ”. Of course, far from that litany heard in many other races this year lamenting the lack of ‘chicha’ of the Italian engine. Although unloaded from the wing, Leclerc achieved maximum speed on the straight in Istanbul and Sainz set the fastest lap twice until it was snatched from him by Bottas.

“Up down to the end”

Will Ferrari then be able to stretch its neck in this final sprint to defeat McLaren? Sainz himself answered the question. “” I think the decision is correct (penalize for introducing the specification) and it has given me the opportunity to come back as seen this Sunday, and this is thanks to the work that everyone has done in Maranello with the new power unit “. Obviously, the pilot felt an improvement under his feet that perhaps also carried over to the aerodynamic performance thanks to that additional power. “As seen this weekend, we were faster than McLaren, in Sochi they were faster than us, so I think this is still going to be a top-down all the way. “

So the hook swap with McLaren will continue. It remains to be confirmed whether Ferrari can control this still latent degradation depending on the track, compounds, and environmental conditions. “What should give us [la nueva especificación] It is the possibility that, in the circuits where we are behind, that there will be some in which we will be a little closer. And in those who are ahead, be a little further ahead. This is what we were looking for with this upgrade, to give us that little bit more to make the fight a little more complicated. “It seems that Mattia Binotto understood in time that in Formula 1 weaknesses cannot be shown.

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