In 2019 Scuderia Ferrari had success in Italy with Charles Leclerc winning in Monza. Although this weekend’s Grand Prix is back in Italy, the venue is Imola. F1 made its return to Imola in the condensed 2020 F1 season. However, Ferrari Racing Director Laurent Mekies has been quoted as stating that the aerodynamic changes between this year and the last has been so significant that the data gathered in Imola last year is hardly being referred to. Instead, Scuderia Ferrari claims they are finding the data retrieved from their Bahrain exploits in 2021 more useful than the data acquired from Imola last year.
The original plan for 2021 had been to bring in new aerodynamic regulation changes but that was in a post-COVID-19 world. As a result, in its bid to reduce costs, the regulation changes have been pushed back to 2022. It has been well documented that there is a big change in car performance from that of 2020 and what has been seen so far this year. This of course is a shock seeing how the teams on the grid were instructed to carry over many 2020 parts and use them again this year.
Nevertheless, F1 did implement its now infamous token system to allow for some creativity and innovation. However, Pirelli have also shaken things up in 2021 as a series of aerodynamic changes were implemented at the tyre manufacturers request so as to reduce loads through the tyres.
This brings us to the hot topic of 2021 so far, the changes made to the floor of the car. The case is being made that the new aerodynamics have been of benefit to cars running a low rake design and hindered cars running a high rake design. Therefore, as cars are so different there is little to be learnt from 2020 data.
This point was highlighted on gpfans.com which quoted the comments of Ferrari Racing Director Laurent Mekies:
"I think this year there is, in the end, a fairly significant change of regulations," said Mekies. "We have a bit less aerodynamic forces on the car.
"On top of that, the tyres are different so actually we are more looking at what we have done in Bahrain, how we want to improve from Bahrain, how we want to adapt the car that we had in Bahrain to the characteristics of the Imola track in order to get the best preparation.
"That is pretty much the process we are following."
However, for some, Laurent Mekies may be a name unfamiliar to them. Reflecting on the career this talented Frenchman has had to date, it becomes evident that Mekies is a man who knows his craft – having been involved with Formula One for 20 years.
Laurent Mekies started in 2001 with Arrows, moved to Minardi the following year and then was appointed Chief Engineer in 2006 as the team evolved into Scuderia Toro Rosso. Evidently, Mekies has plenty of experience to call on. Prior to joining Scuderia Ferrari in 2018, Mekies had a host of roles within the FIA since 2014 with his last one being that of F1 Deputy Race Director which he held for two years working alongside the much-missed F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting.
During his time at Scuderia Ferrari, Laurent Mekies has been Sporting Director as well as Head of Track & Performance Area. Now, in 2021, Laurent Mekies has ascended the summit to hold the title of Racing Director and Head of Track Area.
Due to the positive start made in 2021 by the Prancing Horse – no doubt to the delight of the Tifosi – much can be learnt from the data recorded at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc crossed the line in sixth position and Carlos Sainz managed 8th. The Spaniard was well aware that an even higher position than 8th was a realistic outcome which shows further reason for optimism as we head to Imola this weekend.
Scuderia Ferrari’s performance in Bahrain ensured they concluded a Grand Prix weekend with both cars inside the points – a feat they managed only five times last year. Therefore, should they achieve such success this weekend at one of their two home races of the year, it could be a big moment in the illustrious history of this legendary team.