Ferrari launches the SF71
Ferrari has launched there 2021 car the SF71 ahead of the start of pre-season testing in Sakhir on Friday. The car features a two-tone red livery and green branding from title sponsor Mission Winnow.
The team is the final team to unveil its car following the launch of the team two weeks ago online. The team has retained its traditional red livery but has also introduced the burgundy colour used to celebrate Ferrari’s 1,000th Grand Prix at Mugello last year towards the rear of the car.
The first images of the car had been leaked online on Wednesday an hour before the official launch video and images were released by the team.
Ferrari title sponsor Mission Winnow has returned to the car for 2021 after its branding was not used at any race this year, most notably through a bright green logo on the engine cover. However, the brand is unlikely to appear at the European, American and Australian races due to the ban on tobacco advertising.
The car will make it’s on track debut on Thursday in Bahrain for a filming day before the start of official testing on Friday. Charles Leclerc remains at Ferrari for a third season joined by Carlos Sainz, who replaced Sebastian Vettel.
2020 was Ferrari’s worst season in four decades as it struggled with a draggy car and was left down on power, a lack of straight-line speed after its power unit performance took a hit following a settlement with the FIA regarding its 2019 engine. Like all the cars this year its been described as an evolution of last years car.
The team’s new power unit according to team principal Mattia Binotto has shown encouraging signs on the dyno and in the wind tunnel.
He said, “Based on our simulations today, based on what we can see in terms of power output from the dynos, and the drag of the car from the wind tunnel, I think that we recovered quite a lot of speed on the straights.”
“We hope to be competitive, but we will know it only when being in Bahrain because it’s always relative to what the others are doing.”
He says that most of the work the team has done on the power unit and aerodynamics, with the team hoping the car is more efficient compared to the one we had last year.
Ferrari explains “radical changes” with SF21
Ferrari has explained the “radical change” that it has made to the rear of its new SF21 car ahead of the 2021 season, introducing a new gearbox and suspension. The Italian manufacturer unveiled its car ahead of testing on Wednesday on line.
As well as sporting a new two-tone red livery, complete with green Mission Winnow branding, the design of the SF21 car was notably different in places compared to its predecessor, the SF1000.
The team has opted to use two of its development tokens under the frozen regulations on the rear of its car, with the head of chassis Enrico Cardile saying it looked to make a “radical change”.
Cardile told Motorsport.com, “When we tackled the project for the SF21, we had to choose right away which part of the car we’d give our attention to make a radical change. We chose the rear, creating a new transmission and new suspension. This, along with the work done by our power unit engineers gave us a much more tapered rear end compared to the SF1000.”
He also says the team went over the cooling system and increased the central radiator and designed a more down-washing bodywork. The aerodynamics is one of the biggest changes for this year designed to protect the tyres. The team had two goals with the aerodynamics, one hand, increasing the aerodynamic charge lost due to the regulations, and on the other reducing drag
2020 was Ferrari’s worst season in four decades as it struggled with a draggy car design and poor power unit performance, the latter induced by a private settlement with the FIA over its 2019 engine.
Head of engine design Enrico Gualtieri said the engine had been revised to improve thermal efficiency – a measure of performance with the current V6 turbo-hybrid engines – by changing the design of the turbo and compressor.
Its attempt to recover is largely focused on 2022, after the coronavirus pandemic saw the postponement of the technical overhaul and large parts of last year’s cars frozen.
However, teams were permitted to use two development tokens for major upgrades, but could still complete outside aerodynamic development, allowing Ferrari to make some changes to the front of the car.
Cardile said, “The changes to the front part of the car were less radical, due to the regulations. We developed a new front wing that works coupled with a new nose, but the chassis and the suspensions are the same as the SF1000.
“These challenges certainly do not frighten us. We’ll face them as always, united and with our feet on the ground, conscious that we’ll have to work a lot, and well, to honour the name we represent.”
Williams main rivals will see more performance – Russell
George Russell accepts that Williams main rivals Haas and Alfa Romeo will likely a significant upturn in performance in 2021 due to the likely gains Ferrari will make with its power unit.
Following its worst season in forty years, Ferrari are confident that they will recover what they lost in terms of performance from the power unit. Speaking at the launch of the Williams FW43B, Russell is wary of the positive impact Ferrari’s new improved power unit will have on Williams’ likely rivals in 2021.
He told reporters, “As we saw last year, the points separating the teams at the back of the grid were very small numbers, so you only need one big weekend and that can catapult you from last to eighth in the constructors’, which from a team side is huge and obviously from my side it’s huge,” Russell said.
“Like I say, Haas and Alfa Romeo were our two rivals last year, it’s no secret that the Ferrari engine will be much stronger this year which puts us slightly on the back foot but I think the guys have done a great job over the winter.”
Russell believes as a minimum and taking in the likely improvements to Ferrari’s engine Williams should be where they were last year, while there are possibilities to minimise the gap to the midfield.
His strong qualifying performances saw him reach Q2 nine times in the Williams and Q3 for Mercedes in Sakhir where he missed out on pole by a quarter of a second. Russell, in a Williams, has also never been out-qualified by a teammate.
“To try and become Mr Sunday instead of Mr Saturday! That’s where you get the [points]. No, I think it’s clear to me personally, just continuing to improve over the course,” Russell added.
He says going into his third season he believes he has good foundations, but also a lot he needs to work on if I want to be at the top of my game and ultimately one day be fighting for victories and championships.
F1 is back with questions
F1 resumes tomorrow with the media day ahead of the pre-season test in Bahrain, the centre of operations for the next two weeks and the first time the paddock has been together since testing in Abu Dhabi.
While most of the focus will be on track, there are several key discussions taking place over the coming fortnight. The Bahrain Summit is set to take place with new CEO Stefano Domenicali is keen to discuss with the drivers surrounds the pre-race messaging against racism and highlighting social issues around the world, which was introduced at the start of the 2020 season in Austria.
Domenicali said last month, “I’ve invited them for a meeting that we need to have as soon as possible physically. The target will be to have it in Bahrain, if it’s possible, to really discuss and share this opportunity. We have never had, I would say in F1, so many fantastic drivers, young, talented, very strong, and we cannot lose the opportunity of making sure they understand they are more than drivers.”
The Bahrain Summit is set to show the drivers of there responsibility as the face of the sport, the importance of their behaviour, their words. Full details of what is on the agenda haven’t been announced.
F1 has announced it will continue with the ‘We Race As One’ messaging for 2021, dropping the rainbow logo. The series confirmed it would “plan to include a moment before the start of each race this season to show our united support for important issues”, as it did last year.
Taking the knee done by the majority of drivers last season was one of the most visible signs, but it did appear at times disjointed as six drivers Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr, Max Verstappen, Daniil Kvyat, Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen – did not take a knee at any race, while Kevin Magnussen only took a knee for the first two races.
All seven drivers reiterated their support for F1’s End Racism campaign but felt there were other ways to convey this. Magnussen in particular aired concerns about the links between kneeling and the Black Lives Matter organisation, saying he wanted to separate himself from the political organisation.
F1 and politics is a very complex subject, whether that be racism, where it races with Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia often facing criticism for human rights abuses and sports washing.
Lewis Hamilton has been vocal throughout his campaigning in the past year that all of F1’s actions cannot be performative: they must have meaning. Hamilton himself has launched The Hamilton Commission, which will work to improve diversity throughout motorsport, and is also creating a charity with Mercedes to achieve the same goal.
Speaking during the launch of Mercedes’ new car whether he would continue to take a knee, Hamilton recognised that while taking a knee was ultimately symbolic, he also felt it could be “really impactful”.
Speaking about the Bahrain Summit, Hamilton said “we are all meeting when we get to Bahrain, so I’m sure that will be part of the discussion with Stefano for example. I don’t think it is the most important thing that everyone does take the knee. I think it is more the action that we take in the background.”
“I think it is really important to continue having that conversation. It goes back to accountability and continuing to hold uncomfortable conversations with people, because change is possible and change is needed.”
What real-world change comes is something that will only be able to assess in the coming years…
Alpine open to adding partners
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi says the team is open to adding a partner in the future, but “isn’t actively seeking” a customer for 2022. The former Renault team lost its only remaining customer this year when McLaren decided to return to Mercedes from this season.
That has left the French manufacture only supplying itself. Last year outgoing team principal Cyril Abiteboul said Renault was “happy to focus on itself” but would consider adding a partner team if it added any extra value to the manufacturer. Abiteboul has now left the team and his role replaced by Rossi, who says Alpine would still be open to welcoming a partner team in the future.
Rossi said at the launch of the Alpine A521 F1 car, “We are open to the idea, we’re not necessarily looking for one. I think a partner team would be nice to have but not a must have, because we’re building on the current F1 team, we need full autonomy, full independence and full dedication to the F1 team.”
“Being able to reap the fruit for the business, so building a partner team, could be nice to have down the road but it’s not something we’re actively seeking at the moment.” He admitted that not having a customer team did have the drawback of its strategy but says there are plenty of positives to counterbalance that.
Rossi says that you might lose a bit from the core development and that you could have several teams lose a little bit of the core developments that you could get by having running two.
However, explained that the advantage was focusing only on fitting the engine into there own cars rather than getting distracted by other activities and you can really leverage the fact that you are a manufacturer.
Adding, “I like to add the fact that one of the cons could be that if you are designated to provide [engines] to another team, if you have not been prepared for that you will need to increase the workforce consistently.”
Vettel doesn’t believe only manufacturers can win championships
Sebastian Vettel says that the belief that only manufacturers can win championships is “old school” ahead of his debut with Aston Martin at the Sakhir test. The four-times champion will get his first proper run in the car this weekend ahead of the opening race at the end of the month.
Aston Martin is a customer of Mercedes taking the engine and non-listed parts from the German manufacturer as part of its technical collaboration. This proved controversial last year when the team modelled their car on the 2019 Mercedes and its brakes were found to be illegal because they were a copy.
Vettel rejected the suggestion over the last few years that customer teams cannot win titles, the team has set themselves the target of challenging for titles within the next five years.
The German told Motorsport.com, “I’m not worried about that, I think your fears are old school. The world has moved on. I think in the past, probably you were right. With somebody like Mercedes, I think we can trust that you get a very fair treatment. And if you are faster, then you are allowed to beat them.
As I said, this sort of mindset is way out of date. As a principle. I see where you’re coming from, but I’m not worried. If we are very, very close to Mercedes, that is a very good achievement. So it will be the last thing I would worry about.”
2021 is also the first time he has been in a car powered by Mercedes, this has made him curious to see how the best and strongest power units work, something he says he was looking forward to.
Adding, “we are obviously not in charge of the engine in its development and so on, and we can benefit from such a strong partner, is only to help. We can get on with the car and worry about that.”
“Outside, you have people you get along with, and you have people you don’t get along with. I don’t think that it hurts if you get along with each other. But in that case, I think the strongest benefit is the fact that we are powered by Mercedes.”