Ferrari’s 2022 challenger, a potential title-winning formula?
The new Formula One regulations that are to be introduced in the 2022 season could be a catalyst in bringing the legendary Italian outfit to a title contending position
Kimi Raikkonen's SF71H Drives Through the Streets of Singapore. Photo courtesy of Shawn Ang
It’s been safe to say that Ferrari has not seen much success in Formula One recently. With their last champion Kimi Räikkönen having retired at the end of the 2021 season, the Formula One grid has lost its last driver who won a championship with the prancing horses all the way back in 2007. The team that once dominated the sport at the hands of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher hasn’t won a drivers’ or constructors’ championship since 2007 and 2008, respectively. Since then, the team has come close to winning a championship — most notably of these almost-victories include Felipe Massa’s in 2008 and Fernando Alonso’s in 2012, both of whom missed out on a championship with Ferrari in the final race of the season.
Ferrari entered the 2021 season with muted expectations. Although many expected the team to do better than its horrible 2020 season, there were numerous question marks about the driver line up. Long time rival McLaren brought on proven race winner Daniel Ricciardo who was expected to significantly elevate the team. The early parts of the Ferrari-McLaren rivalry were highlighted by Lando Norris’ strong performance who covered for Daniel Ricciardo’s disappointing start to the season and kept McLaren third in the constructors’ championship. Charles Leclerc was able to grab a surprise podium at his home Grand Prix in Monaco, but was unable to start the race due to a drive shaft issue that was caused by a crash during qualifying. Although disappointing for Leclerc, Carlos Sainz was able to grab a second place podium finish for the race and score Ferrari’s first podium for the season. At the Turkish Grand Prix, both Ferraris were fitted with an upgraded power unit which swung the fight for third in the constructors’ championship in their favor. Sainz’s consistency also led to an upset in the drivers’ championship as he finished fifth, ahead of Leclerc after he capitalized on the chaos in the final laps in Abu Dhabi to grab a third place finish.
As Formula One enters its new era of regulations in 2022, on paper, Ferrari looks to be the most promising team on the grid. Their poor showing in 2020 forced the team to shift their focus onto their 2022 car which has been in development for almost two years now. Although their strong 2021 performance may indicate that their focus has shifted back to their present car, they will need a strong focus on 2022. However, given the massive resources available to the team, they would have been able to develop both cars at the same time. On top of this, both Mercedes and Red Bull fought to the wire for the constructors’ and drivers’ titles and would have expended a significant amount of resources to winning the 2021 championship over focusing on 2022. Furthermore, Mercedes brought in George Russell to replace Valterri Bottas, who is yet to be tested over a whole season in a team capable of competing for the championships. For Red Bull, they transition to their own in-house power trains for the first time as Honda leaves the sport.
Ferrari now finds itself in a strong position, relative to their competition, as they prepare for the 2022 season. It has been reported that the new Ferrari engine for 2022 has an expected 45 horsepower improvement compared to the 2021 model. While horsepower is not everything, the new regulations' decreased reliance on aero parts means that a greater portion of performance should be coming from the power unit. As the team also continues with the same driver lineup who both impressed this year, there are many positive signs pointing to 2022 being a strong season for Ferrari. As the most legendary team in the sport, a strong Ferrari is something that hasn’t been seen in almost 20 years, but there is a strong chance that F1 fans will be hearing "Il Canto degli Italiani" sometime this year.