Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies has called for caution on the judgement of the team’s new power unit despite promising early signs.
The Scuderia delivered its worst performance in 40 years last season as limitations in power played a significant part in its demise, not only for the team but also for supply teams Haas and Alfa Romeo.
Former Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, who now drives for Alfa Romeo, said in Bahrain the power is noticeably improved.
Despite performing well across the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finishing sixth and eighth, Mekies believes the team must wait a month or two before its true performance can be determined.
“We have improved, no doubt,” said Mekies. “We are okay with what we see. We know exactly our numbers but the question is what does that number become when you factor in the progression of the others?
“The real answer to that you discover when you analyse the qualifying and because of the nature of these estimations you need a few qualifying sessions to make sure you have a reliable number you can take back to the factory and say ‘Okay, we know how we progressed, and this is now where we stand compared to the others.’
“I think that will happen after two, three, maybe four qualifying sessions when we have a consolidated number of estimations of the other guys.”
Last year, Ferrari’s engine was hampered in the wake of technical directives issued towards the end of the 2019 season aimed at fuel flow and oil burning.
A development freeze, introduced due to the Covid-19 restrictions, prevented the team from improving on the design until this year but now it has put in place a number of innovative steps to move things forward.
The team said at the car’s launch it had developed a “completely new” engine for this year, with a revised layout for the turbo among the changes, while small modifications in every area appear to have resulted in significant sum-total gains.
Mekies believes there could be more to come. He added: “There is always work to do to extract the most from it at the racetrack.”