Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says the team’s engine is currently lagging behind Mercedes’ by up to 50 horsepower.
The Scuderia came flying out of the blocks after the 2019 summer break with an engine that, for the first time in the turbo-hybrid era, was more than a match for the dominant Mercedes.
Charles Leclerc would claim his first wins in Formula 1 at the Belgian and Italian GPs which followed, but before the season was out Ferrari hit a snag.
That was a series of technical directives relating to engine performance and after these, Ferrari’s performances dropped off again.
The details of Ferrari’s private settlement with the FIA were never revealed, despite the best efforts of their rivals.
In 2020, the Scuderia have found themselves continuing that decline, but their overall performance is starting to pick up with a P3 and P4 finish at the Turkish Grand Prix giving Ferrari a faint hope of P3 in the Constructors’ Championship with three rounds remaining.
Their engine does, however, remain a weakness.
Binotto suggested it is currently the weakest of all four manufacturers – and said reaching the level of Honda and Renault next season would be a “remarkable” step.
“Currently, we don’t have the best engine, but next year we can have a completely new one,” he is quoted by Autoweek.com.
“But being on a par with Honda and Renault today would in itself be a remarkable step forward.”
Of course, the expectation of Ferrari is for them to be challenging Mercedes for wins again.
But the engine the Silver Arrows have produced is seen as the benchmark in Formula 1, and Binotto says Ferrari are “40 to 50 horsepower” shy of it right now.
“Can we reach Mercedes? Perhaps that is asking too much since it means gaining between 40 and 50 horsepower,” he revealed.
And when it comes to nailing their engine for 2021, Binotto said his team will get only one shot at it due to the token system for development in 2021, designed to reduce costs.
“We have to bear in mind that only one engine specification will be allowed for the whole of 2021, except for minor details. There is no room for error,” he concluded.
Ferrari will welcome McLaren’s Carlos Sainz into the team for next season. The Spaniard will replace four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who is set to depart after six seasons with the team.