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The Ferrari rebuild: Can they win F1 races in 2021?

In 2020, Ferrari endured one of their worst ever seasons in Formula 1. Keen to avoid a repeat performance, the Italian team has implemented a number of changes ahead of the first race in Bahrain. Here's why the Tifosi should have faith that things will improve in 2021.

From a Ferrari perspective, one might assume that the focus has almost entirely pivoted to the 2022 Formula 1 season and beyond, where radical new regulations will essentially set every team back to square one. However, the Italian outfit hasn't given up on 2021 just yet, as their sweeping new changes for the upcoming season demonstrate. In all likelihood, Ferrari aren't going to be F1 title challengers this year - but they could be on course to win races once more. Here's how.

Changes at the top

The season is still a few weeks away, but already Ferrari has revealed that team principal Mattia Binotto will not be at a handful of races next season. Whether this is due to 2022 planning, or he really is being pushed out of the exit door as some rumours continue to claim, it shows the team is rejigging the way it operates. A change that will lead to wins in 2021? Perhaps not. But long-term it could certainly pay off in a big way.

A new driver line-up

No matter how good a driver is, there is only so much he or she can do if the machinery isn't up to the task. Charles Leclerc is a phenomenal talent, but there's no way he could out-drive the 2020 Mercedes in last season's Ferrari. Nevertheless, what a good driver pairing can do is maximize the number of points available every weekend, simply by extracting all they can out of the car. In the case of Ferrari, the arrival of Carlos Sainz will surely give everybody at Ferrari a morale boost, before he even gets in the car. The Spaniard earned his Ferrari seat, after delivering a number of extraordinary race results for both McLaren and Renault. If both drivers can finish in the points on a regular basis this season, rather than just one of them, they will already be in a much stronger position.

Powertrain improvements

It's no secret that a big reason for Ferrari's struggles was down to power train limitations. The only secret yet to be revealed is what the team did wrong to earn such a severe punishment, as the car of 2020 was massively down on power compared to its predecessor. While you shouldn't expect the 2021 model to be battling with the Mercedes for race wins, Ferrari themselves claim that the engine has been overhauled, which could see them close the gap to the pacesetting Silver Arrows at the very least. Time will tell as to how successful Ferrari has been in clawing back lost speed, but the early noises out of Maranello are so far very positive.

Reworked aerodynamics

Alongside the engine, natural aerodynamic evolution has taken place as well. Ferrari finishing sixth in the constructors' standings last season did them a favour in this regard, as it meant the team had more tokens to use on wind tunnel development than rival works teams. In essence, the further teams finish down the order, the more wind tunnel time they have; henceforth, Ferrari should have a natural aero advantage over some of the pack leaders for this season - and indeed 2022. Ferrari is allowed five more wind tunnel runs per week than Mercedes, and can produce 250 more CFD items per aerodynamic testing period. Add this to a much-improved powertrain, and wins could once again be possible for Ferrari in 2021 - which not something we thought we'd be predicting six months ago.

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