The 2021 Formula 1 season is off to a solid start for Ferrari. The SF-21 has proved to be a step forward for the team in all aspects of performance. The power unit has improved, so has the car balance and aerodynamic efficiency. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc qualified in P4 at the Bahrain Grand Prix and finished the race in P6. Their new signing, Carlos Sainz Jr., was also impressive on his debut for the team, finishing the race in P8.
After one race in the 2021 Formula 1 season, Ferrari is fourth in the constructors' standings. However, team principal Mattia Binotto is not confident of the team being able to challenge for regular podiums.
When questioned about Ferrari's position on the pecking order, Binotto said:
"The gap is still very clear compared to the top competitors, which in the race still was big, so it was still a long way but it will depend as well track to track."
Binotto poured cold water on Ferrari's prospects of making further progress this season. The team principal clarified that the Scuderia was focusing primarily on the 2022 regulations and that Maranello will not be allocating too many resources for the car this season.
"We know that we will not work much on the development of that car because we will focus on the 2022 in terms of design development. I am pretty sure it is the same with the other competitors."
First few races will indicate Ferrari's potential in 2021: Mattia Binotto
Binotto also revealed that the true potential of Ferrari's 2021 challenger has not yet been identified, as the drivers are still learning the car and its characteristics. According to the team principal, there remain major optimizations to be made to the car for it to reach its potential.
Binotto feels these will take place over the next few races:
"But still I think that if we look at our race today, we got feedback now from drivers, they start learning the car, start knowing what are the limitations of the car, and eventually we may address or we may improve it, so I think the next three/four races will first indicate what is the true performance and potential of our car compared to the others."
Ferrari's improvement at the Bahrain Grand Prix should be considered the first step towards fighting at the front of the grid again. The team had a disastrous campaign in 2020 with a car that could only finish sixth in the standings. With an improved car this season, fans can expect Ferrari to put on a better show in 2021.