Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has cautioned that the team need to be strategic when developing their 2022 car under the new cost cap.
Formula 1 is all change in 2022. Not only have the technical regulations radically altered to allow for closer racing, but the FIA have tried to even up the disparities between the teams by lowering the budget cap by $5 million.
The $140 million spending limit they are now working with means that even a team like Ferrari has to be careful when allocating budget for upgrades.
Speaking after the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the Ferrari boss warned that the Scuderia must be conservative when spending money on upgrades, particularly in the early part of the season.
“It’s not just a question of being ready to bring new parts, with the budgets capped we have to be sure that we don’t spend all our money in the first races of the season,” said Binotto.
“There are therefore no major developments to be expected during the next races and in particular in Melbourne, but we will do it as soon as possible.
“These capped budgets will have a significant influence on the pace of development. I think that’s a key element and what concerns me is having the right approach because it could be decisive in this development race.”
Sebastian Vettel won five races in both 2017 and 2018, with three of them coming in the first seven races in each of those years when they were led by Maurizio Arrivabene.
However, Ferrari’s adept package at the beginning of the season wavered as they essentially ran out of development scope, and they succumbed to Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes both times.
However, Binotto is confident that they are better placed to sustain their strong start to this season – which has included a win, a one-two and four podium finishes – throughout the entirety of 2022.
“I think maintaining a high level of development throughout the season is always a challenge, not just for us but for all the teams.
“It’s true that our competitors are very strong and have proven it in the past, while Ferrari have lost ground with its development in 2017 and 2018,” he explained.
“We have since improved our tools for car design, which are the wind tunnel, the methodology and the simulator. I think we are much better prepared today than in the past to deal with development.”
Charles Leclerc took victory in Bahrain, before securing a second-placed finish in Saudi Arabia having excruciatingly lost out to Max Verstappen, so the Italian believes that his driver is prepared to battle it out for what would be Ferrari’s first title since 2008.
“I think he is. But I’m not surprised. When we extended his contract until 2024 last year, it was because we knew what he was capable of and I think he can play for the title, no doubt,” he added.
“He has the talent, the ability, he is an excellent driver and I am very happy with what he has achieved in these first races.”
Leclerc leads the Drivers’ Standings after his impressive start to 2022, and Carlos Sainz’s consistency has also helped Ferrari top the Constructors’ Championship after two rounds of the season.