Ferrari made no secret that 2021 was a stop-gap year in their illustrious history, focussing on their 2022 Formula 1 car for this era of new rules. What they have produced has fired up Tifosi as Charles Leclerc lead home teammate Carlos Sainz at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Winning in F1 is part of Ferrari’s DNA, hence the last two years were insufferable for Tifosi as they watched their cars in the middle of nowhere as the Blue ones and Silver ones gobbled up the big trophies.
But in one night, in Bahrain last Sunday, the Reds were back in full force with a momentous one-two at Sakhir signaling the completion of their resurgence.
Behind the making of the Ferrari F1-75 are the brightest minds at Maranello, and this is what they had to say of their new car and the road to the stylish victory at the 2022 season opener.
Ferrari Racing Director Laurent Mekies outlined the ethos behind their race-winning package: “Our race team is geared up for the longest season ever and possibly for one of the most surprising seasons of the last decade.
“Different regulations, different cars, 23 races. It’s going to be an incredible challenge for all of us. Last year we had a good scrap for third place in the Constructors’ Championship and, as a team, we made significant progress.”
Mekies: We can count on our fantastic team spirit and our desire
The new rules provided an opportunity for teams lagging behind the big two – Mercedes and Red Bull – to play catch up or at least narrow the gap. A pecking order reshuffle was expected of what was last year Mercedes and Red Bull on par, with Ferrari a way behind along with McLaren.
But over the winter that pecking order changed as teams came up with different solutions for the new regulations’ package. The pecking order in Bahrain was Ferrari and Red Bull on par, with Mercedes perhaps not even third-best car, with Haas and Alfa Romeo surprising all indicating a hot PU from Maranello for 2022.
Mercedes on the other hand were well out of sorts, not only the works team with their radical package, but their customer teams were lousy as well, anchored to the wrong end of the timing screens during the weekend at Sakhir. Something appears amiss in the Merc-camp.
While the Ferrari camp is bullish, especially after owning the show in Bahrain, it is a long season with a long battle in prospect, Red Bull and Mercedes are on the ropes after Round 1 but with another 22 to go it is very early days. Neither F1 powerhouse is floored despite the battering they took on Sunday.
Mekies is wary of the marathon season ahead: “We will definitely have to manage our energy well, in order to stay fully focussed all year long. We can count on our fantastic team spirit and our desire to test ourselves against the strongest opponents.
“In our favour, we have the incredible talent and dedication of Charles and Carlos, who have worked hard all winter with the engineers to develop the car in the right direction,” added Mekies of the two drivers, Leclerc and Sainz, who did what they had to do on the day.
Cardile: Aerodynamics was definitely our number one priority
The Scuderia chassis boss Enrico Cardile shed light on the challenges and processes the team faced in the making of the F1-75: “The rule changes in 2022 are undoubtedly the most radical of the last 40 years.
“As a team we adopted a systemic and integrated approach to the challenge, defining clear priorities among the many objectives, often at odds with each other. In tandem with the car development, we improved our simulation tools, to bring light into the dark corners that existed in the past.
“Aerodynamics was definitely our number one priority. We approached it with an open mind and seized the opportunity of the rule changes to go in many different directions, bucking the trends of recent years.
“This open-mindedness has extended to the development of the suspension: the new rules have imposed a general rethink, with the aim of giving us the flexibility to manage a brand-new car concept and tyres with different properties to those used up until now.
“In short, so many variables came into play, making it a challenging and exciting exercise,” added Cardile before his car went on to clean-up at the first race.
Arguably the biggest step up in performance has been with the PU package which powered four cars to into the top six in Bahrain, with Leclerc claiming pole in the process.
Gualtieri: We have worked with passion, determination and team spirit
Ferrari head of PU, Enrico Gualtieri recalled the journey to the top of the F1 podium again: “It’s been an intense and exciting challenge. All components have been re-evaluated: some have been optimised, while others were decidedly innovative.
“We started from the main concept of seeking the utmost efficiency in the energy transformation process, from the chemical one in terms of combustion to the mechanical one, to the crankshaft. Everything else has been designed with this goal in mind.
“Working in an equally practical way, we also defined a power unit layout that best meets the needs of our colleagues on the chassis side, in view of the new technical regulations.
“We have worked with passion, determination and team spirit, aware of the responsibility of honouring not only our team goals but also the spirit of the entire company, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year,” declared Gualtieri.
Montecchi: Three key factors in the designing and production of the Ferrari F1-75
Fabio Montecchi, head of chassis project engineering at Ferrari, had the final word on the making of the F1-75: “The first key factor for the design of a car that is so different from its predecessors is time management.
“We allowed much more time than usual for the design phase, examining in-depth all the rule changes in order to squeeze out every ounce of performance, exploring a large number of solutions through studies, simulations and bench tests.
“The second key factor is the involvement and empowerment of each individual designer so that everyone feels the excitement and uniqueness of the challenge posed by these massive changes.
“With no reference points available from previous seasons, what makes the difference is the creativity and talent of each designer, the excellence of our analysis tools, the lucidity and courage to choose the most promising solution, even if it is not the most conventional one and in this, we believe we have done a good job.
“The third key factor is the integration and dialogue between the different groups: one team dealing with performance, another with design, then production, procurement, quality control, assembly, bench tests, planning, track management and then the drivers themselves, with their feedback,” concluded Montecchi.