Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is confident that Ferrari will cause disruption at the pointy end of the F1 grid in 2022, placing them among the teams that will be strong next year.
The eight-time Constructors’ Champions ended the 2021 season 290 points clear of Ferrari, who have endured a difficult last couple of years.
They ended 2020 sixth in the standings, achieving just two podiums that year, and they have not won a race since Sebastian Vettel’s victory at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.
However, the Maranello outfit have been hard at work on their engine for next season, reportedly overcoming the 20 horsepower drop that will come with next year’s power units.
And, given the fact that Ferrari began prioritising their 2022 car early last year, Wolff believes the Scuderia will be among the quickest on the grid next season.
“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 said.
The Austrian also indicated that challenges will come at Mercedes from multiple different angles, with Wolff suggesting that McLaren could also be very strong in 2022.
McLaren were pipped to third in the Constructors’ Championship in the final round of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi, and the Woking-based team won the Italian Grand Prix with Daniel Ricciardo last year – their first win since 2012.
However, with Ferrari’s resources and history, Wolff has singled the Italian team out as ones to watch in 2022.
“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,” he explained.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is confident that his team have made significant improvements for next year, but regrettably had to make cuts due to newly introduced financial restrictions in the sport.
“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 said.
He affirmed that Ferrari have taken no chances with their 2022 car, and have thrown everything at it to make sure it is competitive.
“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.”
Ferrari sacrificed pace and results in the latter stages of the 2021 season, instead opting to switch their focus to the development of the car they will use next season.
Binotto feels this was a no-brainer, as Ferrari realistically had nothing to fight for last year: “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 strongly prioritised].”
Ferrari scored five podiums between Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc last season, who ended the season fifth and seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, respectively.
Due to Sainz’s impressive form, Binotto has pledged time over the winter to discuss a new contract with the Spaniard, whose current deal expires at the end of 2022.