Ferrari managed to bounce back after two difficult campaigns to return to the fight for victories in 2022, taking a one-two finish in the opening race in Bahrain and three more wins in the first half of the season.
A key factor in Ferrari ‘s ‘comeback’ has been the improvement of its new power unit, which helped the team make up a lot of ground on the single-seaters powered by the different riders on the grid; Mercedes, Honda and Renault.
Although it was difficult to predict how competitive the F1-75 was before the first race of the season, the engine numbers coming out of Maranello indicated that they had made a big step forward.
“We had a bit more clarity with the power unit, yes, because we knew where we were as the regulations were consistent,” Binotto told Motorsport.com in an interview.
“With the engine, we set ourselves big numbers in terms of targets. And what I have seen that we have been able to develop over the past season for this 2022, I have never seen in more than 25 years at Maranello.
“That shows how hard the team has worked. So it was great to see the results we had achieved with the power unit,” added the Italian team principal.
Ferrari ‘s step forward came after Maranello’s engine performance was hampered until 2020 following a freeze on development in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and pressure to cut costs.
The impact was very apparent in 2020, when the Italian outfit posted its worst finish in the constructors’ standings in 40 years. This was due, in part, to the restriction the FIA placed on Ferrari in the wake of its 2019 engine investigation and subsequent private settlement.
Although the progress made by Ferrari on its engine has been impressive this year, the team has also had problems related to its reliability. Charles Leclerc has had to retire several times while leading due to problems with the power unit, while his teammate Carlos Sainz suffered an engine failure when everything seemed destined to see a new double for the Maranello team.
In reference to whether the reliability issues were a result of pushing performance too far for 2022 due to the development freeze, Binotto replied: “I don’t know if we went too far, because looking for more performance is never enough.”
“Certainly we prioritized performance over reliability. What does this mean? That we may have fallen short of our homologation plan.”
Binotto explained that the appearance of reliability problems in his power unit was also part of the usual process throughout a season.
“Experiencing failures on the circuit that are totally unknown problems compared to the test bench data is normal, they can be problems that simply come because we are gaining experience on a project that is very green,” explained the Ferrari man .
“There are a lot of differences between what happens on a race track compared to the dyno, you’re just learning about the real product. So I think that’s to be expected, it doesn’t surprise me at all,” Binotto concluded.