Formula 1: Hamilton and Verstappen crash at 190mph
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has picked Ferrari as the team to watch in 2022. The Italian giants made an early switch to develop their car for next season, and Wolff believes their opportunities to develop means they could be a force in the near future.
New regulations are being brought into Formula 1 to shake up the grid in an attempt to make the sport more competitive and fairer.
Originally intended for the 2021 season, the regulations – delayed a year due to Covid – 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.
Ferrari sacrificed much of their 2021 development to switch focus early to the upcoming season while Red Bull and Mercedes spent the season fighting at the top.
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Ferrari also benefitted from more wind-tunnel hours than their main rivals as a result of their poor 2020 season, so Wolff believes the iconic Maranello outfit could be a surprise package in 2022.
“We absolutely have to [assume] they will be in the mix next year, because they’ve had more aerodynamic development scope because they had a bad season last year,” Wolff, whose Mercedes team have won the last eight Constructors’ Championships, said.
“They are a great entity, they have all the resources that are needed and, therefore, we absolutely have them on the radar.
“Not only Ferrari, there’s a few other teams which can do really well next year.”
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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto insisted it made sense for the Italian team to sacrifice the 2021 car as Red Bull and Mercedes were too far ahead in terms of car developement.
With the long-term gains a clear benefit over short-term development of the 2021 car, Binotto said the decision was easy in light of the budget cap restrictions introduced last season.
“Certainly we had a big budget, maybe not the biggest but, with the financial regulation and the budget cap, we had to cut some of the developments and to cut part of our organisation,” Binotto explained.
“So, when you’ve got a cap, you need to limit yourself.
“We identified the 2022 [car] as our top priority, so no compromises have been done in developing the 2022 car.
“The reason of putting 2022 as a top priority is quite obvious.
“It’s a new era in terms of regulations and, more than that, I think that knowing that we are behind today in terms of team capacity compared to the best competitors is important for us to really try to focus on the future and try to do our best for whatever will be our medium to long term future and that’s why 2022 [was prioritised].”
Ferrari pipped their historic rivals McLaren to seal third-place in the 2021 standings.
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