Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Nurburgring, 2020

Leclerc: F1’s new aero handicap rules can help “struggling” Ferrari

2020 F1 season

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Charles Leclerc is pleased Ferrari stand to benefit from F1’s new aero handicap rules which are due to come into force next year.

The lower each team finishes in this year’s championship, the more aerodynamic development work they will be able to carry out next year on their cars for the 2022 season, which are being built to entirely new aerodynamic regulations. Ferrari have fallen to sixth in the standings – potentially their worst result for four decades – meaning they would be able to do more development than the majority of their rivals.

“I think the scope of this rule was to try and recalibrate a little bit and to help the teams that are struggling,” said Leclerc. “And the fact is that we are struggling at the moment so this can obviously help us in a way.”

However Leclerc he admitted he would rather that Ferrari were in a stronger position this year.

“I would much prefer to be fighting higher already this season. But it is the way it is.

“So for now hopefully we can take a bit of advantage with that and try to recover what we are struggling with at the moment.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, who will join Ferrari as Leclerc’s team mate next year, is also in favour of the rules change.

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“It’s a difficult question to answer because I don’t know exactly how much the wind tunnel regulations work if you finish third, fourth or fifth,” said Sainz, who has six more starts for McLaren before joining Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2020
F1’s new aero handicap rules mean Ferrari’s dire season will help them in 2022
“But I do fully support the new regulations of trying to converge the grid and trying to make sure that the teams come closer together. I think it’s the right direction for Formula 1.

“Whatever happens with this year’s results independently if they have an impact or not in 2021 I think it is the right direction for Formula 1. And the more of that the better, because the most fun the races will be and the more the driver will count instead of their machinery. That now counts too much.”

Sainz’s current team mate Lando Norris said the rules would have suited McLaren better when they were further behind.

“Obviously two or three years ago this is all McLaren would have wanted,” he said. “But I think it’s good to show that we’re in a position where maybe it doesn’t suit us as much as others.”

Like Sainz, Norris supports the handicap rules. “I think it’s good for the sport, it’s good for Formula 1, it’s what we all want.

“Okay, maybe if we end up third in the championship it will be a negative comparing to the people behind. But it is still a compared to the people ahead, I’m sure. So it’s the best thing for the sport, which is the best thing for everyone.”

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33 comments on “Leclerc: F1’s new aero handicap rules can help “struggling” Ferrari”

  1. “I would much prefer to be fighting higher already this season. But it is the way it is.

    “So for now hopefully we can take a bit of advantage with that and try to recover what we are struggling with at the moment.”

    Indeed, and that is part of why I think I (and F1) can live with those rules, as the handicap isn’t better than just being currently better. No team will voluntarily go far down the grid to ‘save up’ CFD and then somehow get it right the next year (ie. what drivers to to get that FLAP in the race in the laps previously), the reward isn’t big enough, and being better means you start a next year with a head start too (ref. Merc. saying they are now only working on 2021 car)

    1. Well, it’s one thing during stable regulations, but how about the big rule change coming up for 2022? It won’t matter how good your car is now as there will be very little carried over for then. Thus, for maximising that big opportunity the best thing ought to finish last this year and next year.

      Think back to Honda/Brawn at 2009, had this handicap rule been in place back then, everyone would be pointing at that for them building a winning car from nowhere, and the same would go for Red Bull. It wouldn’t be because they’d done well, it would be because they did so poorly the years before. It would feel cheap.

      There is also the aspect about drivers “punching above their weight”. We’ve seen examples of drivers dragging poor machinery to flattering positions in the constructors championship. With these handicap rules, what would be the point of that? That would only harm you in the long run.

      If I was Alonso looking to challenge for the championship again in 2022, I’d desperately hope that Renault lose to McLaren and Racing Point this year. Finishing 3rd will only harm their development opportunities.

      Losing on purpose should never be rewarded. Losing at all should never be rewarded. Why isn’t the cost cap enough?

      1. Agreed, I don’t think losing should not be rewarded even if the boost is not big so that nobody I’ll do it on purpose – even at the cost of balance and “excitement” of the sport.

        The budget cap I think is fair enough, no team can outspend the other (majority of stuff anyways) like they so now.

        While there will still be a gap after the budget cap due to teams already spending a lot pre-cap (mainly Mercedes, Ferrari and RB) long term that will even out.

        Is a dominance possible after the budget cap? Yes but long term (more than a few yearw from now) if something like that were to happen again it would be on pure merit as opposed to because one team is richer than the others.

        1. So does the rule “coincidentally” benefit Ferrari?

          Or has the rule been introduced specifically to help Ferrari?

          And should Ferrari then become number one or number two best car.. will the rule “ coincidentally “ be scrapped?

    2. @bosyber as is evidenced by the questions raised by others, the situation is complicated by the fact that we have a major rule change taking place during this period.

      Under a static rule set, it is rather unlikely that teams would want to deliberately perform badly to try and gain more development hours – with development components carrying over from one year to another, it’s unlikely you would gain significantly unless your current car was fundamentally flawed and you needed to make a significant change in design.

      However, with a major regulation change occurring partway through at the same time that the development restrictions also introduce much larger differences in development hours, it then raises the question of whether it could possibly become advantageous to underperform in order to get a slightly larger allocation of development hours.

      In the case of Ferrari, they are probably one of the few teams that could take the pain of finishing lower down in the WCC order without it being too financially painful, given that most of their advertising value comes from their heritage and past glories – although I agree it’s unlikely they’d want to do that as the potential payoff is unlikely to be big enough with the current proposed hours allocation to make it worthwhile.

  2. Why not publishing the secret agreement with FIA so Ferrari could get 80 points championship deduction? This year is not worth saving anyway.

    1. Maybe part of that agreement is the advantage for Ferrari in 2022.

  3. Ok. Finish. The season for SF was a disaster. Fail. Ok. Never mind. SF is SF.
    Let’s see the new season with the new driver and the car of course. It is necessary to improve the position for the next year.

    And finally for the best of the F1 Sport less see again the FIA Rules.

    FCA Group.

  4. Okay so, if Ferrari produce the best car in 2022, have they done it by being the best, or have the done it by being bad in 2020?

    It’s a terrible, terrible idea, that begs the whole question of racing. Convenient, expedient, and fundamentally false, because now the races don’t tell us who’s doing it best. They have ‘close racing’ that doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to mean, it just means someone’s rigged it that way.

    1. @zann
      As it stands, the sport right now does not tell us who the best is anyway, because of the enormous difference in budget between teams. All it tells us is which team can thrown the most money at research and development.

      From 2010-2013, every title was won by Red Bull. Then the engine regulations clipped their wings. Since then, every title has been won by the Mercedes superteam.

      Three of the most talented drivers on the grid (Verstappen, Ricciardo, Alonso) have had zero opportunity at winning a title during the entire hybrid era because they have not been lucky enough to drive a Mercedes.

      Hopefully in 2022 the field closes up dramatically, and driver quality shines through instead of dominant cars.

      1. Getting sponsorship is part of the competition @kingshark, and Mercedes are very good at it so F1 hardly costs them anything. And anyway by the time the aero time handicap kicks in there’s a budget cap. They can all buy works engines at a bargain price so any team can build up to the top level over time, with each year more prize money and sponsorship.

        Mercedes can have any driver they like, that’s another part of doing it best. And for the drivers, making the best team want them is part of doing it best as well. Max is only 23 and he basically got rid of Danny and is most likely going to Mercedes when Lewis retires or gets old. Fernando, well making good decisions is part of it as well, tho I agree and he was unlucky too, but now he and Renault already had the same chances as Mercedes, over time.

        That was actual meritocracy, not Ross Brawn’s fake meritocracy, with fake ‘safety’ cars for fake close racing, and now this slanted playing field so we won’t know who’s doing it best, we’ll just have a shallow show that pretends, with some teams doing better just because they were worse.

        1. That was actual meritocracy, not Ross Brawn’s fake meritocracy

          The funny thing is the meritocracy you are talking about was a direct result of Ross Brawn’s decisive input when the hybrid formula was created and the stupid token system did the rest.

          1. At that time @tifoso1989 Ross Brawn was TP for Mercedes, he was supposed to be batting for them. Tho I 100% agree about the very stupid token system.

            But for the first hybrid engines Mercedes thought better about it and used a bigger turbo so the H could charge for more of a lap. Next year Ferrari did the same and pretty much caught up. Renault were low-budget and under-resourced, and Honda were stuck with the Size Zero thing. So the order of merit was totally on merit, as far as the power units were concerned.

            That’s how things naturally are in a prototype series: there are vicious circles where everything gets worse and worse, and there are virtuous circles where things get better and better. They’re not often equal, they’re just awesome. For equal, you need a spec series. But if you handicap, it all becomes meaningless.

        2. @zann

          Getting sponsorship is part of the competition, and Mercedes are very good at it so F1 hardly costs them anything. And anyway by the time the aero time handicap kicks in there’s a budget cap.

          Mercedes are also very good at investing over 1 billion dollars into their hybrid engine program. Not every team has that kind of resources. In fact, no one else does apart from Ferrari.

          Let’s not forget that Mercedes were finishing 4th-5th in the WCC until Lauda convinced Daimler to increase their funding.

          They can all buy works engines at a bargain price so any team can build up to the top level over time, with each year more prize money and sponsorship.

          Yes, theoretically anyone can become filthy rich, but if one person is born in a slum and the other is the son of a billionaire, it is obviously not an equal competition.

          Max is only 23 and he basically got rid of Danny and is most likely going to Mercedes when Lewis retires or gets old. Fernando, well making good decisions is part of it as well, tho I agree and he was unlucky too, but now he and Renault already had the same chances as Mercedes, over time.

          I am looking at Formula 1 from a driver perspective, not a team perspective.

          3 of the top 4 drivers on the grid (Verstappen, Ricciardo, Alonso) have been locked out of any chance at a WDC for the entirety of the hybrid era because of how uncompetitive the sport is.

          The budget cap is something that should have been implemented many years ago, but better late than never.

          1. Lol @kingshark F1 is supposed to be expensive, not cheap.

            Those other drivers are not the ones Mercedes wants at this point. You’re wishing F1 were like F2, but we’re not so interested in F2 are we? Liberty are trying to fudge that issue, with fakery.

          2. @zann

            F1 is supposed to be expensive, not cheap.

            That is your opinion.

            When I think of Formula 1, I think of fast drivers in fast cars. I have zero interest in the amount of money being spent or not spent.

            Also, a budget cap of $170 million still gives the teams plenty to work with, that’s not pennies.

            Those other drivers are not the ones Mercedes wants at this point.

            This is one of the main reasons why I do not consider Lewis Hamilton on par with other great athletes.

            Usain Bolt, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Rafael Nadal… they beat world class opponents on a level playing field. That’s why they are the best and legendary athletes.

            Hamilton racked up statistics while his 3 most talented opponents were stuck in an inferior car with no opportunity to challenge. I cannot take his achievements seriously within the context of professional sports.

          3. To elaborate on my previous post, sometime in the future Formula 1 will inevitably become a sport where everyone has (roughly) the same car. Liberty knows that’s what the fans want.

            If a driver can win 5 or 6 world titles in an era of parity, that would be a sporting achievement worthy to be mentioned in the same breathe as Bolt, Phelps, Nadal…

          4. There is F2 already @kingshark, with fast cars that are roughly equal. And let us not drift into bashing Lewis, that isn’t the point. If Charles wins in 2022 do you want people saying it’s because Ferrari got an advantage through being bad in 2020? Or would you rather he did it on merit? Or rather (Charles+Ferrari’s engineering+Ferrari’s race team+Ferrari’s sponsor dept) did it on merit?

            The thing is all about status, that’s how Mercedes’ exposure is worth $5bn. Being the best, the fastest, most rare and awesome. Once they start faking it, with fake safety cars and handicapping to fake ‘close racing’, F1 loses status hand over fist. This is the cliff edge they are on.

          5. @kingshark

            Mercedes are also very good at investing over 1 billion dollars into their hybrid engine program.

            Just as much as Honda did.

            Let’s not forget that Mercedes were finishing 4th-5th in the WCC until Lauda convinced Daimler to increase their funding.

            Yes let’s not forget that Red Bull was only winning because they had a bigger budget.

            Sure Lauda had a plan to get the best driver and up the budget close to the level of their competition. Worked out great.

            They had the best people working on engines, the best driver by a country mile, the best team boss and Lauda the best sidekick (miles better than Marko).

          6. @zann

            If Charles wins in 2022 do you want people saying it’s because Ferrari got an advantage through being bad in 2020? Or would you rather he did it on merit? Or rather (Charles+Ferrari’s engineering+Ferrari’s race team+Ferrari’s sponsor dept) did it on merit?

            If Charles wins a WDC, I want him to win titles in a competitive sport. A sport where 5 or 6 different teams have the ability to win races, where all the other top drivers like Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo, and Alonso are also in good cars and have no excuses because Charles beat them all on merit.

            What I do not want is a season where Ferrari is 1 second faster than everyone else and Sainz is not good enough to challenge Charles (because I rate Sainz and Bottas at a similar level) which results in Charles winning the title without any competition.

            Zann, if you think that I only dislike the current era because Hamilton is winning, you are wrong. You can go back and check my comments circa 2013 when Vettel was dominating, I was saying the same things I am today. I turned off the Russian GP with about 20 laps to spare because it was boring, and Bottas was the one winning. It doesn’t matter who the winner is, endless domination is tediously boring.

            That’s why I will always view 2005-2010 as the golden age of Formula 1.

          7. Alright well I see what you’re saying @kingshark: your focus is on the drivers and you want close racing between them. What I’m saying is that’s not really F1. The reason W Series rotates the cars and mechanics and whole teams, is because they have to, to isolate the drivers from everything else.

            Because otherwise, organically, the best tend to congregate together don’t they. Michael Schumacher is the best. He goes where there’s the best funding is, and the best TP, TD, and designer follow. The sponsors pay more, the tyre supplier does the best tyres specially for them, and tada the whole thing is completely amazing. They win everything, until there’s some kind of fatigue or change and then it’s someone else.

            Of course there are time when the flux changes, Adrian is the best or Dino Toso or whatever, but those are the exceptions. Normally we have something like Ross Brawn with money, and he gathers the best around him, builds the culture, the best wind tunnel, the best engine team etc etc.

            That is F1. And if Liberty try and fake it, make it like something else, they will break it. Because F1 is all about status, that’s what Bernie understood, with being a used car salesman. The huge cost of F1 is all more status, the awesome difficulty that’s too much for Honda and nearly everyone is status. The stars on the grid, Monaco, the driver salaries, the 39-truck motorhomes, 1000 bhp, it’s all status.

            F2 has close racing but not too much status. Even tho it has 600kg cars with 600bhp and lots of close racing, we don’t care so much about it, because the best is all in the next level up and so it lacks status.

            Fake is not high status it’s low status. Success ballast, handicapping, fake safety cars, are cheap and deceitful, so I am quite nervous and disappointed about what they’re doing.

  5. it’s what we all want.

    Lando Norris

    Print that on your wall so when the day comes that you begin to suffer for it, you do not complain.

  6. Vile ferrari, the absolute worst, the things they do to keep losing.

    1. ;) they’re not that smart. Under Marchionne’s time they got rid of best brains that matched arrogant TP and CEO and stayed with the rookies. Now they got what they deserve.

  7. Yep don’t handicap the star drivers, instead just punish the engineers for their success.
    Also despite limiting the technical innovation for a competitive grid, let’s keep calling it the pinnacle of motorsport.

  8. I don’t get one key aspect. Ferrari could spend as much money as Ferrari so they washed their hands kicking Vettel out to cover plain incompetence. Now Leclerc, the special one, says Ferrari can be better because they will have an edge in this new system due poor results? It means that money won’t be a problem if they keep some money away FIA. The second thing I see is that Ferrari will go even deeper down in the new era, unless FIA saves them. All ex-Ferraris team up!!

    1. Spend as Mercedes. Corection

    2. @f180 Well it was clear that Vettel cost them the 2017 and 2018 title and that 2019 could have been very close too (if not for the incompetence and toxicity of again Vettel mostly).

      So yeah it’s about time Ferrari rectified that and got rid of Vettel.

      I’m not convinced that Leclerc is a truly top driver, but he’s a clear improvement over Vettel.

      Either way, Leclerc is not saying that it’s a good thing that Ferrari is so low now, but he’s saying that this aero handicap working in their favor is at least some silver lining around the disgrace that this season is for them.

  9. Lots of chatter about Ferrari gaining an advantage.
    Will we see them doing anything better or different than they would have done without the limitation on CFD rule.? Not likely.
    Not Advantage-Ferrari, but more along the line of, Disadvantage-Every Other Team that finished ahead of them. Just a technical form of success ballast.

  10. Even when Ferrari had a comparable car to Mercedes and Red Bull, they still needed questionable rulings from stewards to score well in races. This continued this year when LEC wasn’t given a penalty for a slow lap because he practiced starts in the wrong location. He wasn’t penalized for starting in the wrong location because ???

  11. Ferrari have a masterplan. Bad 2020, slow 2021, horrific 2022, then Hamilton retires, Ferrari begins a 1 year lomg domination.

  12. playstation361
    21st October 2020, 4:37

    Both of them have problems.

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