Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Istanbul Park, 2021

Ferrari: Power unit upgrade can make the difference in fight with McLaren

2021 F1 season

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Ferrari believe the power unit upgrade they introduced over the last two races could prove decisive in their close fight for third in the championship with McLaren.

Although McLaren have held third place for much of the season so far, Ferrari cut 10 points out of their advantage at the last round, leaving the two teams separated by just 7.5 with six races to go.

Carlos Sainz Jnr received Ferrari’s power unit upgrade at the last round in Turkey, one race after his team mate. He said the gain could help tip the balance against his former team.

“We were quicker than McLaren [at Istanbul],” said Sainz. “In Sochi they were quicker than us. So I still believe it’s going to be up and down until the end of the year.

“What this engine should give us, I think, is the possibility during the circuits that we are behind – there will be for sure a few circuits that we behind – to be a bit closer to them and in the circuits that we are in front to be maybe a bit further up.”

Ferrari brought forward the introduction of the upgrade to give it more time to prepare ahead of the freeze on power unit development which will come into force next year.

“This is what we were looking for since the upgrade was pushed forward and what we hope is going to give us that little edge to try and make the fight a bit more complicated for them,” said Sainz. “We managed to cut 10 points on them which for the points that we are fighting is quite a big cut. So if we keep fighting, six races to go, I think anything can happen.”

Team principal Mattia Binotto said Ferrari had taken a calculated risk by introducing the upgrade earlier than originally planned.

“The first object is try to increase our experience in the view of 2022,” said Binotto. “And that’s why we are introducing it as soon as possible, trying to rush in terms of development, taking some risk as well.

“But it’s all a risk assessment because obviously for us it’s key to get mileage on-track and do our own experience before 2022 where the power unit will be frozen. And really for us that was the key and the reason of it.”

The upgrade gives Ferrari a “small advantage”, said Binotto. “It’s track-dependent. It’s not only pure ICE [internal combustion engine] power, it’s energy recovery so it’s a bit complex.

“But certainly it’s giving us an advantage and as the drivers said in overtaking, if I look as well as the quali with Charles he was qualifying with the fourth lap time but if I look behind him I think it was very close. I’m pretty sure that’s a couple of positions would have been lost without that specification.”

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14 comments on “Ferrari: Power unit upgrade can make the difference in fight with McLaren”

  1. I think Ferrari had a better car than McLaren, with a bad engine that kept them down. McLaren would had been much more ahead, if not for Daniel’s performance issues. Now that the prancing horse is back, I think it will be game, set and match for Ferrari.

    1. I think both sets of cars are both very track specific. If there was 6 x Monza’s to finish the season McLaren would run away with it. If there were 6 x Monaco’s Ferrari would. Dan’s struggles coming to terms with the McLaren have definitely reduced the margin of McLarens advantage over Ferrari, but at the end of the day he’s a far more experienced racer than the rest of the 4 seats, and has showed that when he is in sync with the car he can get the maximum out of it. Like the top of the table I expect the balance to ebb and flow between McLaren and Ferrari until the end of the year.

      1. Absolutely about 6 monaco vs 6 monza, it’s even more a foregone conclusion than if there were 6 austria or 6 monza for red bull vs mercedes, cause reliability could still come into play, while at monza or monaco there’s such a gap between mclaren and ferrari that not even reliability can overcome that.

        1. Cause there will be more cars inbetween ofc.

    2. It’s difficult to assess, the ferrari, as evernit seems, has good brakes and good traction, their weaknesses were direction change and power. With this car direction change seems better, they used to struggle in silverstone, perhaps they have improved the pu’s center of gravity, the power is much improved but still clearly lacking.

  2. As much as I hate to say it, there is only one significant factor in the competition between Ferrari and Mclaren, and that is Daniel Ricciardo.

    Had Dan performed even half reasonably, I doubt the gap would be even close at this point of the season. He and his performances (or lack of) in these last few races will be the difference between 3rd or 4th. The cars are evenly matched enough this year to call it a draw – the difference will be entirely drivers.

    1. In the last few races;

      RIC – 0 – 12 – 27 – 0 – 6 = 45
      NOR – 6 – 7 – 18 – 1 – 0 = 32
      SAI – 4 – 15 – 8 – 6 – .5 = 33.5
      LEC – 12 – 0 – 12 – 10 – 2 = 36

      Just sayin’

      1. That’s a fact. Ricciardo is the top scorer last 5 races. Cannot argue with that. Subjectively you could say that’s all down to 1 mega weekend at Monza that he has come no where near for every other race.

      2. Take out the win and it’s a whole different story.

        1. Well, if we take away the best result for each driver, ricciardo has 18 points left, norris 14, sainz 18,5, leclerc 24, so he’s still in competition or higher than all but 1 driver in the last few races minus outlier win.

          1. Yea, facts can really get in the way of personal beliefs.

    2. @dbradock But you must also factor in Leclerc’s bad luck and then it about evens out again

      1. Sort of. I’d still say if Dan had performed as they’d have expected (regularly 4th to 6th with a podium or two) and at least matched his team mate they’d have been well clear of Ferrari.
        He’s definitely going to have to perform at Norris’s level for the remainder of the season or both Leclerc & Sainz will pull points in front of him

        1. Yea, if you take the facts and ignore all the results that you don’t like then the remaining facts are exactly whatever you believe them to be.

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