Ferrari SF21
Ferrari SF21 - Credit: Ferrari Media

At last, Ferrari’s 2021 challenger gets revealed to the world. The Scuderia launches the SF21, and the prancing horse looks ready to race. 

After enduring one of the worst seasons in its history, Ferrari aims to hit back in 2021 with a bang. After a disastrous 2020, the team from Maranello are under pressure to progress through the field. It is a make or break year for Mattia Binotto’s team.

Ferrari is unlike any F1 team, it is Italy’s national sports-team, and a worldwide Tifosi supports the team. They eagerly awaited the launch of the next car to emerge from northern Italy. Team principal Binotto introduced the world to the new car earlier today.

At first glances, the car is sporting a splash of burgundy from last year’s race at Mugello, as well as wearing a ghastly green on the engine cover. Irrespective of those features, liver-wise, the car looks understandably very similar to the 2020 car.

Although, if you look closely, there are a few subtle changes. The front wing and nose cone section got reprofiled over the winter. The tip of the nose cone is sculpted to direct airflow tightly around the suspension and towards the bargeboards. The front wing also features a steeper climb on the upper elements.

Ferrari knew in 2019 and 2020 that they’d designed an aerodynamically deficient car. 2019 got masked by a superior power unit. With the power unit advantage lost in 2020, the chassis problems got laid bare.

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Head of chassis performance Enrico Cardile said at the launch, “Because of the regulations, less drastic changes were possible at the front end of the car. So, we developed a new front wing in conjunction with a new concept nose.”

The car’s rear saw significant changes take place, as Cardile intimated during the launch program; “We opted for the rear end, designing a new gearbox and new suspension system. In addition to our power unit colleagues’ efforts, this has led to a much tighter rear end.” Only time will tell if the changes make the difference.

The power unit also so drastic changes get made. After last year’s donkey, the Scuderia, needed a rampaging stallion in the back of the car. Engine director Enrico Gualtieri suggested that a holistic approach benefited the engine development process; “Along with our colleagues on the chassis side, we worked a lot on the layout of the power unit, to make the overall design of the car as efficient as possible.”

Gualtieri also feels that incremental improvements did get made over the winter; “With the internal combustion engine, we focused on increasing its level of thermal efficiency, in conjunction with our partner Shell, and this has produced an improvement in lap time that we estimate at over one-tenth of a second.” Gualtieri is under pressure as head of the engine department. The engine freeze is looming; there is no time for mistakes.

2021 needs to be a year of progression for Ferrari. The world knows how good Charles Leclerc is. The Monegasque man is one of the premier drivers on the grid; he will extract everything possible. Spaniard Carlos Sainz joins Leclerc for his debut season for the Scuderia. After excelling at Mclaren, Sainz gets his shot with the biggest name in racing.

The drivers won’t be the problem for Ferrari; they will understand the desires of the team. The biggest issue will come from the team. Have Ferrari designed a user-friendly car that works well on all tracks. Then the team must navigate race weekends correctly. It is something that consistently plagues Ferrari, especially when compared to Mercedes.

The launch was not glitzy or glamorous like Aston Martin’s, which wasn’t required. Ferrari needed to show progress from last year, as well as recognising their mistakes of previous years. That is what the fans wanted to hear.

Now, the time for talking is over. As the winter fog starts to leave Maranello and Modena’s streets, their prancing horse is ready to get fired up for another season of F1 racing. Ferrari team principal’s job could be the most formidable in Italy, for Mattia Binotto and his team’s sake, that horse cant fall at the first jump.

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