Scuderia Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies admitted that the Maranello team’s car vulnerability when being passed “killed the overall performance” on more than one occasion during the 2021 Formula 1 championship.
The Italian side made significant progress this season as compared to the poor results from the previous year, as Ferrari recovered part of the engine deficit to Mercedes and Honda and was therefore able to challenge McLaren for third place in the Formula 1 Constructor Standings.
While the Ferrari racing director confirmed the updates changes which improved the power unit were small and effective rather than a massive overhaul, he reflected upon and was grateful for the benefits the SF21 engine provided. This came with the caveat of not being able to re-pass cars once they had been overtaken though, and he felt once that happened there was not much chance for either Carlos Sainz or Charles Leclerc to be able to recover the position:
“In absolute terms, there is nothing about the new hybrid system where you could say it was a ‘game changer’,” said Mekies, in a recent interview for Motorsport-Total.com – “But when you reflect on it again, you think ‘what if we hadn’t had those tenths and hundredths of a second?’ It would have moved us back X positions. Because the field is so tight, we think it [updated power unit] has been very significant in the second and especially the third part of the season. In some situations we were vulnerable to overtaking, which killed the overall performance of the car. Once we were behind, that was it. So that little extra helped us to use the car’s potential better because we were less vulnerable and could drive freely more often.” – he added.
Laurent Mekies also explained that the Maranello team made a “significant step” with their power unit this year and taking into consideration the power unit freeze which will be introduced soon, their 2022 construction will be extremely important for how Ferrari will be able to perform in the next years.
Team principal Mattia Binotto said there is no “magic wand” that can take a team back to being competitive for the championship in just one year, but their racing director is optimistic the target of matching their rivals in terms of raw power can be achieved.
“The numbers from the dyno already showed us a decent progress. We knew we weren’t going to catch up with the competition, but if you look at how far away we were in 2020 we’ve significantly reduced the regression. That it was not enough was no surprise,” Laurent Mekies added when explaining how they did not entirely reduce the gap – “But we saw the steps taken by the competition were perhaps not as big as ours. They were still significant, especially for Mercedes. It was important for us to bring the hybrid update before the 2021 season because we knew we had to close the gap. We were able to reduce the gap again with the new hybrid. Is it at zero? No. That will be the goal now.” – Scuderia Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies concluded.