Ferrari lives a season in clear recovery compared to the much more troubled 2020 championship, with the Scuderia di Maranello currently the protagonist of a challenge with McLaren valid for third place among the constructors. In spite of the growing performance, Cavallino leaders have repeatedly displayed the strategy of concentrating almost all resources in favor of the 2022 project, the year in which the Red team aspires to return to fight for the top positions by exploiting the extensive regulatory revolution.
The profusion of efforts on the car that is being created in Maranello does not only concern the chassis and aerodynamic aspects, but also the development of the new power unit. In this regard, the Team Principal Mattia Binotto stated that the final races of the current season could be used to test some of the novelties of the Scuderia’s next engine directly on the track: “The 2021 regulation states that a completely new power unit can be used this season. This means that it is possible to bring updates for all components, namely the heat engine, turbocharger, batteries and the two electric motor generators MGU-H and MGU-K, but what we did at the beginning of the championship did not complete our development. […] There are still parts from last season in the power unit“. The number one of the Scuderia Ferrari then added: “By the end of the season we will bring an evolution for those components that will constitute a significant leap forward and to gain experience in view of 2022“.
The technical and sporting regulations currently in force establish that it is possible to homologate a single evolutionary step of the power unit per season. As illustrated by Mattia Binotto himself, however, the power unit has several components, the updating of each of which can be approved with different timing. The law also provides for the possibility of introducing an evolution in the arc of 2021, but does not require that this must necessarily debut at the beginning of the year, thus leaving the door open to the introduction of a new specification late in the season, provided that the component in question has not been the subject of other innovations during the championship.
By the end of the championship the SF21 will therefore be equipped with a new specification for one or more components of the power unit, although it has not been specified which parts will be affected by this development. The strategy of not homologating a new version of every single component of the turbo-hybrid engine at the beginning of the season reveals the desire to have more time to develop a preliminary version of the 2022 power unit. of 2021 of some of the characteristics of the power unit of the next season it will allow to acquire valuable information to finalize the development of the new power unit during the winter, thus allowing to “Gain experience in view of 2022”, quoting Binotto himself. In fact, the greater representativeness of the assessments on the track is accompanied by the reduction in the hours of bench tests for engines in 2021, factors that encourage the collection of data on the track.
With the 2022 power unit, Ferrari aims to mend the performance gap that currently separates the engines of the Prancing Horse from the references of Mercedes and Honda, after having in any case recovered part of the gap with the 2021 engine. Before the engine updates expected for the last part of the championship however, when hostilities resume in Belgium it is likely that the third heat engine of the 2021 specification will be mounted on the SF21. The damage remedied by Charles Leclerc’s power unit in Hungary is such that it is impossible to reuse the second unit and could force the Scuderia to use a fourth engine by the end of the championship, resulting in a penalty of ten positions on the starting grid. On the other hand, the possibility of splitting the mileage of the remaining 12 Grands Prix between two engines could alleviate concerns about reliability and allow the adoption of slightly more aggressive engine mappings.
FP | Carlo Platella
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