Ferrari believes it has significantly updated its internal combustion engine and made major changes “under the body” of its 2022 Formula 1 car.
F1’s most famous team haven’t won a grand prix since 2019 after spending the last two seasons recovering from a major performance setback, mainly on the powertrain side but also with its chassis.
Question marks over Ferrari’s engine performance in late 2019 led to technical guidelines from the FIA which restricted certain techniques and left Ferrari with a significant power deficit.
Ferrari partially addressed this issue with its 2021 powertrain and then introduced a new hybrid system during the season which resulted in a noticeable improvement in performance and was the basis of the 2022 design’s energy recovery system.
At the same time, Ferrari has developed a new V6, in part to optimize the design of the new 10% ethanol fuels that F1 will adopt in 2022, but mainly as part of an ambitious project to close its remaining engine deficit.
“The powertrain is very different from the current one, with the exception of the hybrid,” said Mattia Binotto, boss of Ferrari F1.
“There will be some changes to the hybrid system for 2022 as first for the regulations as more sensors are acquired from the FIA in all systems. But the overall system is very similar to the one we ran at the end of the season.
“The rest, especially on the internal combustion engine, I have to say is significantly different.
“We have a new fuel, which is 10% ethanol, which has changed combustion a lot. Just looking at this different fuel, regardless of the supplier so it’s not because of the supplier, we’re losing more or less 20 horsepower, which means the combustion itself is quite changed.
“So there were a lot of development opportunities on the powertrain and we changed it a lot, especially in the design of the combustion itself.”
Each engine manufacturer has had to adapt to the new fuel and each team also builds brand new cars built to completely different technical regulations.
This includes a significant departure from the aero platform of the previous generation of cars.
While some fear the FIA has made the rules too prescriptive, Binotto says there is still room for innovation and Ferrari has pursued new ideas beyond surface aero components.
“The way we approach exercise was really open-minded,” he said.
“When you look at the concept of the car, what was possible and what was not – it wasn’t just the exterior forms but everything you could have done under the body in terms of layout, in terms of suspension design, in terms of architecture, including also power architecture – I think the team has made some important innovations.
“The overall design that we are now formalizing is quite different from the 2021 project.”
If Ferrari’s bold claims about its significantly reworked car and engine package prove correct and have the desired impact, the team could join the championship fight again.
He has been part of the F1 midfielder for the past two seasons while Mercedes had an undisputed race to the 2020 title and then engaged in a bitter duel with Red Bull in 2021.
Ferrari defeated McLaren in third place in the 2021 Manufacturers’ Championship after a one-season battle that turned after the introduction of the hybrid system.
It also landed two pole positions in Monaco and Azerbaijan and got the third fastest car over the remainder of the season, indicating that the SF21 has managed to solve some of the wagging car issues in 2020.
But Ferrari still finished 290 points behind the championship title winner Mercedes and had an average deficit of over 0.7% – around six-tenths around a hypothetical 90-second lap.
This is why the 2022 project has been a “priority” and a “necessity” for Ferrari, as Binotto does not believe that it would be possible to have a “good or competitive car” in 2022 with a normal development approach.
The result is that Binotto believes Ferrari should aim to win races again in 2022 and “what we have is the best result of a team effort and that is important to us” – but it can be. -be too early for a coherent challenge.
“What will be important for us next year is to keep growing,” Binotto said. “And it is to further reduce the gap with the competitors.
“The new regulations are an obvious opportunity. The hope is to be competitive and for me to be competitive is to be in a position to win races.
“Would that mean we can fight for a championship? If I look at it today, the gap is still large.
“But as a Ferrari, it’s part of our DNA. The important thing is to be able to fight at least in some races for pole and for victory.
“It’s the simple consequence of continuous growth and improvement. I would be disappointed if we haven’t improved since this year.
“At the start of next year, maybe at the start of the season, there will be a difference in the competitiveness of the cars because of how each team may have interpreted the rules and the solutions you can bring.
“What is important as a Ferrari is to be able to understand weaknesses and remedy them very quickly.
“It’s the reaction of the team that will be the key.