“The data coming from the counter is promising. The engine will be completely new, we have invested a lot in its development because we currently don't have the best engine on the track […] the results we are seeing now satisfy me. " , Mattia Binotto, TP Ferrari, early November 2020 .
“The aspiration is to return to being the benchmark for the competition. The engine is running on the test benches in a promising way. In terms of performance, the development, compared to 2020, is significant. I believe we will be competitive again. We will no longer be the worst on the grid. But we cannot know where we are until we see how much the others have progressed. " , Mattia Binotto, TP Ferrari, mid-December 2020, on the occasion of the" remote "chat with the press that replaced the classic Christmas dinner.
In short, it would seem that the performance of the Ferrari 2021 , which will be named SF21 , will depend directly on those, together with the reliability, of the new power unit. It will be like this? YES, or at least to a large extent, if you don't want to relive a facsimile of what the Italian-Swiss coach has defined as the "worst season of the team since 1980" to date, 2020.
In fact, the Maranello team has been arriving for a horribly year ; the technical limitations imposed by the FIA in the last weeks of 2019 and in the following ones have canceled out the developments of at least two seasons, causing the Italian team to lose the beauty of 60 HP. Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel have gone from having an excellent motoring advantage over Mercedes in 2019, to a -40 HP in 2020. Which in percentage terms of the average gap in qualifying between the two former rival teams is about 70%! The rest generated by a non-optimized aerodynamics for such a "pumping" drive unit and by a chassis / mechanics that have never shone on post-2017 Ferraris.
Unfortunately, there was no more time to intervene: partly due to the short notice regarding the new technical directives, the real "purge" of the FIA (the secret agreement was more "facade" than anything else), but above all due to regulatory limitations imposed in contrast to the economic crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic which has further worsened things. Had there not been these limitations (no engine engineer was able to bring an evolution of PU to the track during the 2020 season), part of the novelties present on the PU 2021, which will debut in the Montmelò tests at the beginning of March (2-3-4 / 03) , would have been brought to the track in the second half of the 2020 world championship. As well as the aerodynamic corrections would have arrived faster, as well as no longer being so decisive.
The 671 2020 project , in the months prior to the introduction of the technical directives, was born on the basis of the excellent data of the 2019 drive unit . And 2021 would have been the year of the very important regulatory changes, then postponed to 2022. For this reason, at Ferrari they had thought of solving the problem of the lack of aerodynamic load of the SF90 without working too much on the aerodynamic efficiency of the 1000 (all the more important how much less is the cavalry of the engine unit) and above all accepting an inevitable increase in aerodynamic drag generated by more loaded wings. The PU 2020 pre technical directives allowed it, the post technical directive one no longer.
So it all fell apart. The "plans" are skipped and the optimized aerodynamic map of the SF1000, albeit draggy but well contrasted by the boost of the PU, with 60 HP less has become a deck that could not be shorter. This has made the problem of resistance to advancement even more important, as well as showing even better the important frame and mechanical problems of previous projects, now unable to make up for the engine gaps and the necessary aerodynamic compromises. In short, we needed to do what Red Bull did for years when it was powered by Renault.
But the problems were not only deriving from the non-optimization of the aerodynamic concept of the car with the power unit used, the 2020 post technical directives: on the 1000 there was also an important problem of rear instability, which severely limited Sebastian Vettel's performance, especially in the first part of the season. From this point of view we intervened from Sochi and for the following three appointments by first updating the front part of the car, then the central one and finally, in Portimao, the rear. The car has improved, not so much in pure performance but in more predictable “behavior”, especially on the rear. And above all ensuring a better correlation between the data coming out of the wind tunnel / CFD and those collected on the track, a fundamental factor for continuing development of the SF21 in the factory.
Rewinding the tape a bit and returning to what has been written up to now, it is clear why Ferrari wanted to invest a lot of money, and also the two tokens, between the power unit and the rear of the car : "We will modify the rear part because we think it is in this area that, in 2021, there will be more room for development between the chassis and aerodynamics. - said former Ferrari Simone Resta, in a few days in Haas - In addition , the rear end will be affected by the FIA regulations, which will introduce new rules to reduce downforce so as not to over-stress the tires. Since there will be changes to the fund that will cause all teams to lose various points of downforce, it will therefore be important to try to recover as many as possible. This is why we believe that the rear is the most important area on which to spend our tokens ”.
The work in the transmission / rear suspension area will be important to be able to redesign part of the latter, which is one of the many secrets of the dominant Mercedes W11.
As for the power unit, it will have important innovations especially in the fuel system where it is believed that Ferrari found in 2019 a loophole (regulatory hole) then “banned”. The undeclared goal is to enter second place, behind Mercedes but ahead of Honda and Renault. It would mean, GPS data in hand at the end of the 2020 season, to get to about ten HP from the Anglo-Germans (Renault closed at -15 HP, Honda at -20 HP). To do this, 35 HP upwards will be needed, an important but not impossible step forward, also useful for countering any and possible steps forward of the other engineers.