Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz don't want to hide. Both confirm that the goal this year is not just half a season, but to fight for the title to the end. They not only hold their car responsible, but also themselves.
Ferrari was only a title candidate last year until the summer break. Then the racing team of the hearts of Red Bull was overrun. That shouldn't be repeated this year. Neither the team management nor the drivers want to hide from the big task. "Our goal must be to be able to fight for the title," say Frédéric Vasseur, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in unison.
To do this, the engineers first had to work on the weak points of the car and engine. A sore point were the many defects on the side of the drive unit. Ferrari first had to shorten the running times, then scale back the power. The perfect balance between the two precautionary measures was not always found.
The problems should have been resolved with the last expansion stage in 2022. The test bench results also gave cause for cautious optimism. "The stability problems have cost us performance. I assume that we can attack again this year," hopes Leclerc.
A lot of work with tire management
But the Ferrari F1-75 was not free from errors either. The car was carrying too much weight and putting too much area into the wind. The high air resistance cost top speed in total with the power reduction. According to the team, both should be a thing of the past. In the race, the car ate its tires.
"We put a lot of work into tire management. It wasn't easy, because sometimes the front tires and sometimes the rear tires were more worn down. The answer doesn't just have to come from the technology. We as drivers also have to adapt. We are on the right track, even if there will be more races that can become critical," said Leclerc.
Pirelli's new tires will neither solve nor exacerbate Ferrari's problems, according to Leclerc. "The front tire is a bit stronger than last year. That's easy to react to with the setup of the car. I don't expect a big impact on the overall performance. Maybe it helps us a bit in races that are more front-tyre."
The tire problem also has a lot to do with vehicle balance. The old F1-75 often behaved like a diva. Sometimes good in fast corners, but not in slow ones. times vice versa. Leclerc breathes a sigh of relief. "It felt better in the simulator with the new car. But we will only know in Bahrain whether it can be implemented in reality."
Hope for smooth test drives
Colleague Sainz was also a regular guest in the simulator in Maranello.That's why the Spaniard moved his residence from Madrid to Maranello in the second week of January. "I've done four to five sessions in the simulator since January. Each one lasts around 100 laps. There were also regular meetings with the engineers. We have a pretty clear idea of what to expect. Now we have to make sure that we can do the three Execute test days in Bahrain optimally in order to implement what you have learned."
Leclerc is hoping for three days without incident. "One and a half days isn't much if you want to find out what driving style and what setup the new car requires. With six seasons of experience behind me, I'm confident. But for a rookie it's definitely not enough."
Team boss Vasseur warns: "If everything goes according to plan, you can do with three days. If you have a problem, like McLaren did last year, then you can hardly react anymore. There are only five between the last day of testing and the first practice session days." The new man in the executive chair came, saw and stated: "I trust that this team did a good job over the winter."
Sainz criticizes the lack of consistency
The drivers take responsibility for the error analysis of the 2022 season. Charles Leclerc spent two weeks in a training camp in the Dolomites. There was also a test day with the 2021 car. "It was a good opportunity to get driving feeling again and scrape off the rust." A lot of preparation also took place in the mind. "I know I'm fast. But my error rate was still too high. I have to improve."
The 25-year-old Monegasse quickly made friends with the Groundeffect cars in 2022. This was also due to the fact that the basic characteristics of the F1-75 were tailor-made for his driving style. "I like cars where the front axle grips and the rear is a bit restless. I benefited from that at the beginning of the season."
For Carlos Sainz, the rear skid was poison. "The last year wasn't easy for me. It took me a long time to get used to the car. Despite the difficulties, I won one race and was on the podium nine times. That's the positive aspect. Still, I have to improve "I lacked consistency, and that used to be my strength. I have to adapt to the car more quickly and of course I hope that the new car will suit me a bit."
Twelve percent more wind tunnel than Red Bull
Leclerc goes into the first races with no specific expectations. It is important to be with the music from the beginning. "Whoever wins the first race does not automatically become world champion. The season is damn long with 23 races. Consistency is what counts most. We believe in ourselves and in the work we put into this project over the winter." There are no excuses for Sainz: "In my third Ferrari year, the title must be the goal.I did everything to be a better driver than last year."
Ferrari expects a three-way battle for the top. The engineers built on a good basis with solvable weaknesses. They had five percent less wind tunnel time than Mercedes, but twelve Percent more than Red Bull Leclerc would like to believe that this will also show up on the race track in the end." We all know how important the wind tunnel tool is to engineers. So it has to mean something. It's just not possible to estimate how much."