Ferrari's Racing Director, Laurent Mekies, has explained how the 2021 season made the team "much stronger" ahead of the new campaign.
After a challenging 2020 - during which the Scuderia ended the year in sixth, marking their worst season in 40 years - there were definite signs of progress last year.
Drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz helped to push the Italian outfit back up to third in the Constructors' Championship following a battle with McLaren, and some of their rivals have tipped Ferrari to move even further up the field in 2022.
2021 a "very important year" for Ferrari
Mekies thinks that, given the poor form of the team in 2020, it was important for them to bounce back last season.
"You know, 2021 was very important for us, even though the gross results might not be one that as a team you can be happy with," Mekies said at the launch of Ferrari's 2022 car, the F1-75.
"It was a very important season, first because we are coming from an extremely difficult 2020 season. We had to turn around that result, [and the] regulations were half-frozen, so we knew we had a challenge to prove ourselves at that time.
"So, it was important to go back in a higher position in the pecking order of the grid."
Battle with McLaren "treated as a World Championship"
Mekies also credits Ferrari's fierce battle with McLaren for P3 in the championship as further boosting their confidence, with the Scuderia treating the fight as if it was a duel for the title.
"The fight for the third place, we treated it as a World Championship," he explained.
"We knew we were very similar in terms of car performance compared to our main opponent last year, so it was going to be a fight until the very last race of the season.
"So, as a team, we grew a lot through that phase. I think we gained confidence through our capabilities to win that fight."
Ultimately, Mekies believes that the battle made Ferrari even better prepared for the 2022 campaign, adding: "Hopefully it makes us today a much stronger team.
"We have made steps forwards and we now are looking forward [to] fighting for bigger things."
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