The much-hyped all-new Ferrari engine will make its debut at the Russian GP. It will be debuted to keen observation and analysis, and is the first aspect of deciding whether Ferrari can be title contenders or not for next season.
Ferrari will bring this engine out at Sochi, finally replacing the old 2020 engine. The 2020-spec hybrid system has served them till this point, but it will be phased out for the new engine. One driver will receive it before the other, but within two races, Ferrari is expected to have both cars running the new power unit.
According to Ferrari, they are introducing the new hybrid system this season itself for a reason. They want “to gain experience for the 2022 car project.” The following season will see a new car containing this new power unit, which will help them navigate the new regulations that will be enforced for 2022.
Ferrari promised that a great deal of effort had been put into the new engine. The power unit has always been the weakest link in the proverbial Ferrari chain. As such, the Prancing Horse wishes to address that issue as soon as possible. By using the power unit this season itself, two things can be achieved.
One, any advantages stemming from it can be used to battle McLaren for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship. Two, should any issues or weaknesses crop up, they can work on it before the next season starts.
The introduction of the new power unit will be staggered between Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, the two Ferrari drivers. Leclerc will be the one using it first, as a precautionary measure for the risk of him running the battery pack that was damaged at the Hungarian GP. Sainz, meanwhile, will take it later, most likely at the Turkish GP.
Upon taking the upgrade, the two drivers will have to take grid penalties.
Charles Leclerc will be the first one to have the new engine
Leclerc will be doing the honours for Ferrari, and he will be carrying the new engine for the weekend at Sochi. He will take a penalty at the Russian GP, but if the new engine lives up to the hype, he could easily cut through the midfield and finish in the points.
Leclerc was full of praise for the new power unit after practice. He finished P4 and P10, but stated how happy he was with it. He said that it was a big upgrade in many ways.
“It’s a big change for everyone,” Leclerc told the media after the practice.
“For the mechanics, for us, it’s a new part so it’s good to see everything was working as expected. We’ve been focusing mostly on the race because for qualifying…we’ll be starting last anyway, so we’ve done a good job today by taking as much information as we could and we are happy with our Friday.
“I feel it is a little bit better. Which is great, and obviously the data confirms it, so yeah, it’s great to feel it and to see it.
“It is a very difficult track to overtake. I tried during FP2 and it was very difficult,” said the Monegasque driver. So let’s see. You never know, I will try to be at my best but I expect maybe a difficult race on Sunday.”
Leclerc said that although he is very happy with the engine, he will still be facing the issue of Max Verstappen at the back of the grid.
“It might be a bit easier for him, he’s quite a bit quicker than us. But I’ll try to use him to just stay behind him and overtake the cars with him,” Leclerc detailed.
The silver lining is that although the Ferrari with the new power unit is still projected to be a bit slower than Red Bull and Mercedes, it is not a worry. Next season will see an all-new car as well. Once the 2022 regulations are taken into account, Ferrari and their fans will be hoping they can be title contenders again.
Mattia Binotto revealing that the team was developing a new engine
Binotto has been actively promoting the new engine, heralding it as the final piece of the puzzle for Ferrari.
“We will have a completely different and new engine which for us represents a strong discontinuity of the project,” Binotto said while speaking about the engine.
“I must say also with courageous choices given that in the coming years the power unit will be frozen. For us it represents the best product we were able to develop. We have changed the mechanical part of the engine, but also the turbo and hybrid combustion of which we are anticipating the evolution in 2021.
“Compared to the past, it is a significantly revised project on all fronts. We don’t know what the others are doing, but we are working well. As always, the track will tell who did it best (sic),” the Team Principal explained.
Ferrari using their old 2020 engine in 2021
Ferrari fully understands that it needs to do away with the current power unit if they want to achieve their goals. Their horror season in 2020 was rock bottom, and they want to get back to where they belong. The new engine will not be a revolutionary one, but will have every part of the 2020 engine fine-tuned.
Until then, however, they are using the old one. However, the 2021 car is far superior to the previous year’s model. Ferrari are challenging McLaren for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, and have occasionally taken the fight to Mercedes and Red Bull as well. They have clinched two pole positions and taken multiple podiums this season.
Therefore, the Russian GP will signal the end of the line for the 2020 engine. Although last season was a nightmare, the engine served the team well this time around. It is only onwards and upwards for Maranello from here on out, and at the centre of that comeback is the power unit that will replace the 2020 one.