Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies says 2021 was a battle against themselves to demonstrate clear improvement.
The Scuderia had been taking race wins and pole positions in 2019 but fell back drastically come 2020, at that stage battling to finish in the points.
The 2021 campaign needed to represent a major step forward for the Italian outfit, a goal they ultimately achieved, beating McLaren to P3 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Ferrari and McLaren were the leading duo in the midfield throughout the campaign, with Ferrari claiming five podium finishes and two pole positions.
It was a campaign when Ferrari had to prove to themselves they could push through their issues and get back on course.
“It was us against us,” Mekies is quoted as saying by Motorsport-Total.com.
“We gained some confidence early that some of the major issues we had with the previous year’s car were no longer so severe.
“It doesn’t give you an answer as to where you will be compared to the competition, but it gives you an answer or a clue that’s crucial because it’s also the path that ultimately drives development. It wasn’t a panacea, but it was a step in the right direction.
“[In 2020] we were not satisfied with the performance. We were not happy with the aero efficiency. We were not happy with the performance we got on the track.”
As for the specific areas where Ferrari improved, Mekies highlighted performance in slow corners, which would explain Charles Leclerc’s pole positions at his home race in Monaco and at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz went on to finish P2 in Monaco.
That said, Mekies does not believe a gain in slow-corner performance was the only driving factor behind those achievements.
“I think there, as always, it was a combination of many factors – street circuits, our drivers who were very focused, preparation that allowed them to build the right confidence and the car working well in those conditions,” he explained.
“I wouldn’t say it was just one of those factors. Because on other tracks, in slow corners, we found a bit of performance but unfortunately we couldn’t quite reach the level of Baku and Monaco.
“You could see Budapest was a good race for us, a good performance, but certainly not like Monaco and Baku. I think in Monaco and Baku there were other parameters – how to make a tyre work on a street circuit so the drivers have the right confidence and things like that.”
However, Leclerc’s only podium finish of the season came at the British Grand Prix, finishing P2 around a high-speed Silverstone track where he had led for a large portion of the race.
Put to Mekies that Ferrari also performed on high-speed circuits in 2021, he replied: “That’s a good point, we also achieved some strong results on high-speed tracks. You could say, yes, that’s true.”
Ferrari were battling against themselves
Laurent Mekies claims Ferrari were battling against themselves in 2021.