COVID-19 impact prompts Ferrari F1 project number quirk

Formula 1 teams have faced some unprecedented times over the past 12 months, as the sport has had to react quickly to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as a dramatically revamped calendar and new protocols, the outbreak prompted a delay to all-new regulations originally planned for 2021, plus a carry over of the 2020 chassis in to this season.

But the pandemic has also prompted a bizarre quirk for Ferrari too when it comes to giving designations to its chassis.

We have already seen Alfa Romeo announce that, as a successor to last year’s C39, this year’s car will be the C41 – but that has been done because the team wanted to align the chassis number with the year of racing.

That’s why it has elected to jump from the C39 to the C41 – for 2021.

Ferrari is doing a similar jump with its long-running new car project number system, but for completely different reasons.

The Italian outfit has long given each year’s car a project number as well as an official chassis name.

Last year’s SF1000, for example, was characterised with the project number 671 while it was being created at the team’s Maranello base.

Logic would suggest, therefore, that the SF21, which is set to be revealed ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain, will be the 672.

However, that will not be the case – even though the car will feature a lot of carry over components as a result of the chassis freeze rules that were introduced as an emergency cost-saving measure.

Instead, the car’s project number has been officially designated as the 673.

The reason for the jump is simple: for during the early stages of 2020 when the world was a much more normal place, Ferrari had begun work on what was going to be the all-new 2021 car.

At Ferrari, its ground effect machine, which will herald the start of an era that F1 hopes will improve the racing dramatically, had already been given the 672 project number designation.

When the FIA delayed the introduction of the new rules until 2022, and banned teams from doing much work on them, Ferrari had to park their new project for a bit.

However, with teams now again free to do as much development as they want, Ferrari is up and running again with both its 2021 and 2022 challengers – albeit with out of order titles.

Work is therefore continuing on the 672 project, which will become the 2022 challenger.

Meanwhile, the Ferrari 673 (SF21) will maintain the main chassis of the SF1000, but will feature some limited updates the Italian team has been able to do under F1’s token system.

It will feature a revised rear end, not only because of the new floor rules, but also for the introduction of a new transmission. A new narrow gearbox will allow the rear suspension to be redesigned and help ease some of the rear end nervousness that hindered Ferrari’s drivers last year.

The SF21 will also feature a brand new engine that Ferrari hopes will address the power deficit that it suffered from in 2020.

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