Wolff reveals how Ferrari’s poor 2020 campaign could give them an advantage this year

Ferrari have not secured a race win since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Ferrari’s abysmal 2020 season could well be what gains them a significant advantage heading into the 2022 campaign.

Ambiguity loomed over the Scuderia during the COVID-enforced break from racing in 2020; they were reeling from a largely disappointing 2019 and Sebastian Vettel was already confirmed to be headed for the exit door before the season had even begun.

They then announced they had to redesign virtually the entire chassis as they had found multiple faults with their original concept.

They managed three podiums between Vettel and team-mate Charles Leclerc, and ended sixth in the Constructors’ Standings, some 442 points behind champions Mercedes after a 17-race season.

It was a season of utter humiliation and despair for Ferrari fans, but one positive glimmer of hope could be extracted from their struggles in the form of a new set of technical regulations this year.

The aerodynamics have been stripped back this season in a move that sees the return of ground effect, while the tyres enlarge the engines become less powerful.

Predominantly, this is in aid of closer racing and more frequent overtakes, while the new 90 percent fossil fuels and 10 percent renewable resources has been introduced to help Formula 1 achieve its goal to go carbon neutral by 2030.

As a result of 2020’s nightmare of a season, Ferrari were able to focus attentions elsewhere. They knew that the 2021 cars would be largely similar to the one they were running that year, so Wolff reckons they will have spent a lot more time developing the 2022 car in the wind tunnel.

“The ability of having more wind tunnel time is of course something you need to you need to bear in mind,” he told Crash.net.

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“The advantage of finishing sixth versus first over the course of the season is a couple of tenths [of a second].

“And of course you need to catch up, but we are part of these regulations. I think it’s good to create competition, so we shall see where everyone is.”

With every new set of regulations comes an inevitable exploitation of gaps in the rules, and the Austrian cannot be certain that nobody will attempt to find a loophole – something that F1 CEO Setafano Domenicali also did not rule out.

“Personally, I’m not discounting any teams. Everyone could be high up in the standings at the beginning of the season,” he added.

He then cited the double diffuser Brawn utilised in 2009 at the beginning of the KERS era, and while Ross Brawn himself does not believe anyone will try that this year, Wolff acknowledges that there is always room for improvisation.

“We’ve seen it in 2009 with a double diffuser, if a team has innovated and discovered opportunities that could be game changers, [then] anyone can be ahead at the beginning [of the season],” he explained.

Though he may be rivals with the Italian giants, the 50-year-old backed up Vettel’s quip in 2016 that “everyone is a Ferrari fan,” and would like to see them climb back up the mountain soon.

“As a fan, I love Ferrari,” he said. “They are the greatest name in Formula 1, and it cannot be that Ferrari is not competing for race victories and titles,” he said.

“Winning championships is something different, many things have to come together to achieve that, but I think for all us fans of the sport Ferrari needs to be in the mix and we’ve missed them in the last few years.

“The passion of everyone at Ferrari and also the Tifosi in Italy, it’s important to see that the car is competitive. So I hope there will be a few of us who are able to win races and [are] fighting hard on track.”

Ferrari have not won a title since their 2008 constructors’ crown in 2008, while Kimi Raikkonen remains the Maranello squad’s last drivers’ champion in 2007.

They have also not won a race since Vettel’s victory at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, so Carlos Sainz and Leclerc will be eager to get them onto the top step in 2022.