SEASON REVIEW: 2021 Formula 1 World Championship – Scuderia Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari didn’t really have much to lose for the 2021 season. They had an absolutely disastrous 2020 thanks to a terribly underpowered car and a demotivated Sebastian Vettel, making them the butt of many jokes from Formula 1 fans around the world. Fortunately, 2021 turned out to be a bit better! While there were still problems in the team and neither of its two drivers managed to secure a race victory, there was definitely a much more positive feeling about the future at the end of the season. Ferrari managed to finish 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship, beating upper midfield rivals McLaren (who many believed were still the best of the rest this year). This has no doubt been helped by bringing fresh blood to the team in the form of carlos sainzwho more than delivered in his first season behind the wheel of the red car. Charles Leclerc was no slouch either, but once again he seemed to be fighting bad luck. This bad luck was especially true when it came to Formula 1’s return to Monaco (Leclerc’s homeland) for the first time since 2019 and when a potentially huge victory at Silverstone did not come to him due to problems. independent of his will.
Perhaps Ferrari’s biggest advantage this year has been having a competitive car again. After a year of struggling for points, Ferrari was finally able to mingle with the upper midfield and even legitimately fight for the win at times! While the car hasn’t really changed at all from the SF1000 in terms of chassis and aerodynamics, the powertrain has been vastly improved and even received an upgrade midway through the car. season that made him better. It was when the upgrades arrived that things particularly started to look up for the Scuderia, giving them that extra little boost they needed to overtake McLaren in the constructors’ championship and cement that third place finish.
The other huge high that Ferrari has had this year has been the superb performance of its new signing carlos sainz. While people expected Sainz to be very good due to his previous form to adapt very quickly to the team he is in, he still did better than expected. In fact, he even beat his teammate Charles Leclerc (who has been with Ferrari since 2019 and is under a long-term contract which ends at the end of 2024) in the drivers’ championship standings! Rumor has it that Ferrari have been so impressed with what Sainz has been able to do in his first year at the team that he is going to extend his contract a bit further. If so, then I’m sure the Tifosi will be very happy to see him for a bit longer.
Another quite unexpected peak for Ferrari was the takeover of Mattia Binotto as team leader. While the longtime Ferrari man (he’s been with the company since graduating from university in 1995) had been seen as a joke as team boss in 2020, 2021 has seen him mature into the role in which Ferrari had placed him. He wisely decided to stay out of much of the Mercedes-Red Bull fight, only intervening to comment when asked about the potential legality of Mercedes’ rear suspension (even then he said he thought it was totally legal). He has also learned how to deal with the media better and it seems that replacing Vettel with Sainz has also reinvigorated him. If he doesn’t have the charisma of Toto Wolf, Christian Horner Where Zack Brown and never will, what he now carries with him is firm assurance about Ferrari’s future in F1. It can only be a good thing.
While in many ways 2021 was a return to form for Ferrari, it was a season where the Scuderia were still winless. Admittedly, this is more due to bad luck than anything else. Charles Leclerc came a crop due to unreliability at Silverstone, having to deal with engine issues that caused him to lose a considerable amount of pace every time they raised their heads. He was also unable to start his home race in Monaco because his car was too damaged from the accident he had in qualifying the day before. Still, it’s not a brilliant look that Ferrari has had its first consecutive winless seasons since the bad old days of the early 1990s.
Generally, Charles Leclerc was a better qualifier than carlos sainz during the 2021 season. Leclerc managed to score two pole positions (one in Azerbaijan and one in Monaco) and frequently qualified much higher on the grid than Sainz. That’s not to say Sainz was a single lap down on him, as there were several weekends where the right operator came out on top in the qualifying battle. There were also several weekends (the Netherlands and the United States being two of them) where Sainz managed to be one or two grid positions behind his teammate.
As for the weekends that used the Sprint Qualifying format, Leclerc beat Sainz in the sprints on two of the three weekends. Leclerc finished 4th and 5th respectively in Great Britain and Italy in the sprint against 10th and 6th respectively for Sainz; the tables turned in Brazil when Sainz finished the sprint race in 3rd as opposed to 6th place Leclerc. With sprint qualifying set to become more important in the 2022 season, perhaps Leclerc’s early advantage in the 2021 sprints could be a sign of things to come?
When looking at the battle between the two Ferrari drivers during the races, there is definitely a clear winner when it comes to the number of races completed. carlos sainz managed to complete every race in 2021, which no doubt contributed to the very impressive season he had. During this time, Charles Leclerc was unable to start the Monaco Grand Prix due to his aforementioned qualifying incident and had to withdraw from the Hungarian Grand Prix after suffering heavy damage due to the chain reaction caused by Valtteri Bottas.
When it came to race results, Leclerc definitely had the upper hand most of the time. He usually finished races in higher positions than Sainz and it took until the French Grand Prix for Sainz to beat Leclerc in a race situation. One could argue that the main reason why Sainz finally beat him in the league standings is because Leclerc is coming off an unlucky season; of course, we all know what happened in Monaco, Hungary and Great Britain. There’s also the fact that Sainz had to spend some time getting used to a new car and as a result he tended to finish lower than Leclerc. Adaptability was certainly not as big an issue for Sainz as it was for other riders (Daniel Ricardo and Nikita Mazepin being the key people who had trouble adapting to their new machines).
|Tower||Qualifications Sainz||Sainz Race||Qualifications Leclerc||Leclerc race|
|Britain||10th (via sprint qualifying)||6th||4th (via sprint qualifying)||2nd|
|Italy||6th (via sprint qualifying)||6th||5th (via sprint qualifying)||4th|
|Brazil||3rd (via sprint qualifying)||6th||6th (via sprint qualifying)||5th|
What to look for in 2022
Ferrari could very well be an interesting team to watch in 2022. Mattia Binotto has been very vocal about how the team managed to develop the 2022 car earlier than most other teams. Indeed, he was talking to the media about how the development of the new car was progressing all the way in September! He also made some noise about how he thinks the 2022 cars will look more like Formula 2 cars, meaning anyone who was great in F2 will be great in this new era of F1. One of those drivers who fits this bill just right is Charles Leclerc, who was absolutely dominant during his junior career. Maybe with a good enough car, Leclerc could cause a real upset and fight for Sir Lewis Hamilton and his new teammate george russell? The Tifosi would certainly be delighted if that happened!