Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies has told drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc to find the limits quickly in 2022, owing to the reduced budget cap that will be enforced next season.
Formula 1 teams will have $140 million to spend this year, compared to $145 million million in 2021. This means that drivers will need to be careful, as each crash puts the team closer to the reduced budget limit.
Sainz and Leclerc had more than their fair share of collisions over the course of the 2021 season, and Mekies has warned them that they must ensure they acquaint themselves with the limits quickly.
“There is less money available for development during the season, because the overall budget has also shrunk,” Mekies said.
“We will see more upgrades than in the 2021 season, but also fewer than in 2018 or 2019. We encouraged our drivers to sound out the limits.”
The 2021 machines were largely similar to the cars used in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing development on the new specification of cars that were supposed to be introduced last year.
Instead, these alterations will occur this year, and while Mekies stated that there was little work done to develop the car in 2021, there will need to be plenty next season, meaning that the team will need to be strategic when deploying their smaller budget.
As such, he has called on Sainz and Leclerc to push each other, but also work together to help the team improve the car as the year progresses.
“Because the competition between the two of them helps us advance. This year , there was relatively little development on the car.
“We were able to live better with accidents in terms of budget [in 2021]. That will be different in 2022 – we need all the money for vehicle development.”
The new regulations have thrown a lot up into the air, and it is unknown exactly where everyone will be in terms of performance in an unprecedented new era for Formula 1.
Mekies emphasised this, saying it will be impossible to know where Ferrari stand prior to pre-season testing and the first race of 2022.
“We have no idea where we stand compared to the others. There is no reference [with the 2022 regulations]. In the beginning, the loss of lap time was huge. We made up a lot of it, but nobody knows if that is enough.
“You put the car on the road in Barcelona [testing] and hope that it does what the simulations and the wind tunnel promise.”
The 44-year-old suggested that the cars this year will still be in very close proximity to the pace of last year’s machines, and reckons they will be back on par next season.
“After six weeks, it [the gap] will be less and, by 2023, the cars will be pretty much the same. The window of what is feasible is simply much smaller than it is today,” he explained.
Drivers have disagreed over how the new cars feel from the work they have completed on the simulator, and Mekies believes that they will prove more of a handful in 2022.
“The cars will certainly be more difficult to drive. It will depend a lot on the driver how they adapt to them. We are well equipped with Charles and Carlos. Both get to their goal in different ways.”
Sainz and Leclerc scored five podiums between them last year, guiding Ferrari to third in the Constructors’ Championship.
The Scuderia have not won a race since 2019, while their wait for a championship now stands at 13 years.