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Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has conceded he is not necessarily confident in a title charge in the upcoming season, despite prioritising the 2022 car last season. F1 is set to enter a new era with aerodynamic-based regulation changes set to shake up the grid.
Originally intended for the 2021 season, the regulations were delayed a year due to Covid.
These regulations are aimed at reducing ‘following car distance’ by removing ‘dirty air’ that leading cars leave in their wake, making overtaking moves more difficult due to the turbulent air flow.
Cars will differ quite substantially from their predecessors despite power units essentially being unchanged as sidepods, airboxes, brake ducts, underbodies and both front and rear wings are set to be redesigned.
The addition of 18-inch wheels will also massively affect the cars, both visually and technically.
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Ferrari were one of several teams to switch their focus to the new car early on rather than developing last year’s contender with the hope of hitting the ground running at the dawn of the new era.
With the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull leading from the front, Binotto was asked whether he was confident his team could return to the top of the sport.
“First, I cannot be confident,” replied Binotto in the press briefing.
“The reason why it seems [like] that [is] if I look at the gap [to Mercedes and Red Bull], it’s still significant, showing that those teams are very strong.
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“The fact we have put a lot of effort on the 2022 [car], putting the priority [on it] was for us a necessity because we knew that if we would not have done that, it would have been difficult for us to have a good car or a competitive car in 2022. So for us, it was more a necessity.
“Is that giving us the full confidence? No, we cannot be confident because, as I said before, we have no references from the others.
“What we know, certainly, is that we put all our effort and whatever we will have is the best result of a team effort and that was most important for us.”
F1 cars are also set to switch to a new ‘E10’ fuel, which will see an increase of ethanol content to 10 percent, with 90 percent fossil fuel sources.
This increase is affecting horsepower and therefore affecting performance, frustrating many engineers around the paddock – although Binotto’s Ferrari and Alpine have both reportedly solved the issue.
Looking ahead to 2022, it appears world champion Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will be the protagonists once more, but there are other figures that could crash the party.
Red Bull and Mercedes are still the favourites to get out ahead of the new regulations, the changes could shake up the grid order and allow a contender to emerge from the shadows.
F1 will return in 2022 for preseason testing on February 23 before the opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.
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