McLaren battle helped Ferrari ‘become sharper’

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris, McLaren and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, side-by-side. Brazil, November 2021.

Lando Norris, McLaren and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, side-by-side at Interlagos. Brazil, November 2021.

After an error-strewn 2020 season, one that featured too many strategic blunders, Laurent Mekies says Ferrari’s fight with McLaren last season “sharpened” the Scuderia.

The 2020 season was without a doubt Ferrari’s worst in decades, the Italian team slumping to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship as the drivers went winless.

And while the latter stat did not change in 2021, Ferrari again failing to reach the top step of the podium, it was overall a better performance.

Carlos Sainz finished fifth in the Drivers’ Championship with four podiums, while his team-mate Charles Leclerc bagged one on his way to seventh place.

Finishing the championship with a run of seven double points hauls, Ferrari secured third place at the penultimate round in Saudi Arabia.

It was a solid improvement from the team and one that sporting director Laurent Mekies hopes will stand them in good stead for the battles to come.

McLaren driver Lando Norris comes up alongside the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc to make a pass. Italy September 2021.

Asked if their season-long tussle with McLaren had ‘sharpened’ Ferrari, Mekies said: “I think it did. At first, we started the season with the McLaren a bit faster than us in more situations.

“They opened a good gap in the championship and then, in parallel to that, we were in that unique situation, certainly for Ferrari, where there is no development from early on.

“We really, certainly trackside and also Maranello-side, as far as the support is concerned, we really focused on how we could use that year to become sharper and develop as a race team and to develop our tools and so on.

“So yes, it did become our World Championship for last year. It’s a very good team to fight against. They got some fantastic moments. They won Monza. They could have won Sochi.

“They are very, very competitive. They are also in a very good dynamic themselves, so it was a good challenge.”

Their fight with McLaren also forced Ferrari to tighten up when it came to strategy calls from the pit wall.

While that was not one of their highlights in 2020, the team having made far too many strategic errors, 2021 was a better year.

There were, however, still several issues with their pit-stops, another area Ferrari had to work on.

“Yes, it was a challenge where you needed to make less mistakes than them,” Mekies added to GPFans.

 

“You need to put more of these small designs together if you want to beat them. So it was ultimately the same thing as what’s happening for the top two positions.

“It’s the same dynamic. The points lost cost you the same. Therefore, it was good training for the team.”

 

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

McLaren battle helped ‘sharpen’ Ferrari

Laurent Mekies believes Ferrari's battle with McLaren helped sharpen the team.