Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Ferrari are gearing up for an aggressive approach to the 2022 season as they seek to end the dominance of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. With a new partnership of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, the Scuderia enjoyed improved fortunes last year, finishing third in the Constructors’ standings behind Mercedes and Red Bull.
Their haul of 323.5 points represented a major improvement from the 2020 campaign, when Leclerc and then partner Sebastian Vettel could only finish sixth with 131 points, with McLaren, Racing Point and Renault also in front of them.
Sainz was also fifth in the individual standings, the highest placed driver outside of the top two teams, while Leclerc was seventh – with just five points separating them.
However, both were more than 220 points behind eventual winner Verstappen and runner up Hamilton, with the leading pair also winning 18 of the 22 Grand Prix races for good measure.
Next season promises change though, with new technical regulations coming into the F1, with the aim of making the sport more competitive.
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Indeed, Spaniard Sainz, 27, has already sounded a warning to both Verstappen and Hamilton that he believes he can challenge them for the title on a level playing ground.
And sure enough, the Italian giants are preparing to pull out all the stops to help Sainz or Leclerc, 24, land them a first title since Kimi Raikkonen’s success in 2007.
Vettel was runner up to Hamilton in both the 2017 and 2018 campaigns, but since then a challenge has failed to materialise. However, it is the tactics used in those campaigns that is set to model their approach this time around.
“With the (financial) resources available at Ferrari, they have to compete for the world title every year, and that has not been the case for several years,” reported Italian media outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport.
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“In 2017 and 2018, Ferrari came close and surprised especially after the winter break by being right there. However, both times over a full year they were still beaten by Mercedes.
“Those successful years do set the example for Ferrari for the coming season. With new regulations, the engineers have a blank piece of paper in front of them on which they can go all out.”
Even with the new regulations, which will alter factors like aero-dynamic testing, down force, and tyres, Ferrari will need to bridge a huge gap between themselves and the teams run by Christian Horner and Toto Wolff.
However, unlike their competitors, Ferrari were able to turn their attention to this season early in 2021, whilst Red Bull and Mercedes could ill-afford to lose focus as their main drivers went to the wire in their battle for the F1 title.
Sainz has recently talked up his partnership with Leclerc, claiming the competition between the pair was only serving to help them both takes strides forward.
“This tight battle and this tight competition is what is going to bring Charles and me again to a better level next season, and it’s also going to benefit Ferrari and ourselves,” he said.
“So it’s a great competition to have and a great team-mate to have, apart from a great guy and a super cool guy to have as a team-mate.”
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