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Formula 1 2021 Team Preview: Ferrari

Ferrari will look to make improvements this year. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Ferrari will look to make improvements this year. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
ANALYST
Modified 17 Mar 2021
Feature

Ferrari had a torrid time last year when they had to make last-minute changes to their engine.

The result was that a team that boasted of a rocketship on the straights in 2019 became one of their liability in 2020. Nevertheless, with all that behind the Italian outfit now and the new season about to get underway, let's break down the most iconic team on the grid and see what we could expect from them this year:

Team: Ferrari

Strengths

Ferrari have some of the most passionate fans in the world. Photo: Charles Coates//Getty Images
Ferrari have some of the most passionate fans in the world. Photo: Charles Coates//Getty Images

When you talk about Ferrari, you talk about passion - the passion from the fans, the team, the culture, the streets of Maranello and the drivers who are living the dream.

Ferrari are not a team that have a dearth of resources. They know how to get things right and know how to bounce back after a torrid season.

They're a team that has competed at the front for the better part of the last decade, with 2020 and 2014 being the only blips in an otherwise competitive decade. After going through a torrid time last year, Ferrari could be expected to be well prepared and charge towards the front yet again.

Weakness

Just like passion, when you talk about Ferrari, you also talk about politics, pressure, expectations and hysterical backlashes.

Ferrari competed at the front for the better part of the last decade. But there's also the cruel fact that the team are yet to win a title since 2008. They haven't been able to take the final step to win the championship, and many a time, it appears that the politics within the team serves as nothing but self-sabotage of sorts.

The way Mattia Binotto replaced Maurizio Arrivabene was a bit strange, and the results are there for everyone to see, Ferrari have tumbled down the Formula 1 pecking order since 2018. They need stability at the top to make a comeback. But for that, they'll need to keep politics at bay for a while.

Drivers

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc will partner Carlos Sainz at Ferrari this season. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Charles Leclerc will partner Carlos Sainz at Ferrari this season. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

If there is one thing that Ferrari have done right in the last few years, it is locking Charles Leclerc up in a long-term contract with the team. Charles Leclerc is the next big thing in Formula 1, and the way he approaches racing is admirable.

Even last year, when Ferrari had a sub-par car, Leclerc was able to put together some great drives and make the podium on multiple occasions. With Leclerc able to extract the most from the car, Ferrari ought to provide him a car capable of winning the championship.

Carlos Sainz, Jr.

Carlos Sainz's move to McLaren about two years back kickstarted his best stint in Formula 1 since his debut. Driving for the resurgent McLaren, Sainz brought with him a sense of tranquillity that benefitted the team.

Moreover, his consistency and ability to spring in a surprise result here and there made him a valuable asset to McLaren and raised his stock. It was this attribute of Carlos Sainz that impressed Ferrari the most when they were looking to replace Sebastian Vettel.

In Carlos Sainz, Ferrari have a reliable, consistent and solid performer to complement the exuberance of Charles Leclerc.


Ferrari Pre-season Test Form Guide

Ferrari did stay under the radar during pre-season testing. That was slightly uncharacteristic of a team that made it a point to top the timesheets during the pre-season tests only a few years ago.

Nevertheless, Ferrari have been able to accumulate decent mileage on their car. The power unit seems to be an improvement as well, and the car seems to be a step up in performance. However, none of these are indicative of Ferrari making a resurgence to the front of the grid just yet.

In the pecking order, Ferrari will likely be well entrenched in midfield right now, as both McLaren and Alpha Tauri seemingly have faster cars.

2021 Formula 1 season predictions: Ferrari

2021, by all means, is likely to be a transitional year for Ferrari. Since Ferrari are not expected to compete at the front this year, it would not be a surprise if they scrap this year's development altogether and start focussing on 2022 very early in the season.

Ferrari do have one of the best driver lineups in midfield. But with a car not up to pace, they cannot be realistically expected to beat the likes of McLaren and Aston Martin this year.

In all probability, Ferrari could finish fifth in the constructors standings this season.

Published 17 Mar 2021
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