No one, including Ferrari, could have imagined such a poor campaign in 2020 – the iconic Maranello team recorded their worst performance of the last four decades. Their sixth place in the constructors’ standings was the lowest result since 1980.
2020 was definitely a year to forget for Ferrari and compared to last year, the initial stats of their SF21 seem encouraging.
Last week, during the opening race week of the season, Charles Leclerc was able to qualify P4, positioning himself on the second row of the grid.
Lando Norris, who led the ‘midfield’ group, arriving fourth behind the Mercedes duo and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull is convinced that, despite Ferrari being a little better in qualifying, they’re not as quick in race pace.
Norris said that albeit Ferrari “were a little bit quicker” than McLaren in qualifying, the Mercedes-powered team had the edge in race pace.
“More because I overtook Charles five, six, seven laps into the race rather than at the start,” he commented. “That was because we just had a better car and some better speed.
“So it’s a bit of both, 50-50 between us. But it’s not easy and I want it to be easy. So if we do better on Saturday, then I’ll be happy.”
In Norris’ view, the slightly slower stints in qualy are among the main disadvantages of McLaren’s recent cars, however, on Sundays, they seem much more at ease with the car.
“Saturdays are difficult for us, I think, a little bit like last year. We’re maybe a little bit more comfortable on Sundays than Saturdays.
The feedback from the first race was definitely positive, the young driver however admits that Bahrain is a track where the team normally does quite well. Thus, it is a bit early to make a definite forecast of how harsh the battle for third place in the constructors' championship will be.
“But we’re at race one and it’s Bahrain, a track normally we do quite well at. So we need to be at some different tracks a little bit more often, we have to see after some more tracks where we really stand.
“Now I can get to the front and just maintain my tyres and everything. But if I had to race a little bit more, maybe it would have been a little bit more difficult and a different story.
Norris doesn’t want to give away too much, as we’re only one race into the season – However, he feels optimistic and believes McLaren has nothing to fear.
“So I don’t want to say anything yet. I don’t want to say anything which isn’t true. But we had a good Sunday, the car was good, so I can be positive about that.”