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Ferrari’s F1 chief hopes team does better in 2021 but urges ‘realism’

/ 07:52 PM February 27, 2021
Ferrari Charles Leclerc Sebastian Vettel

FILE — Ferrari’s Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (Front) and Ferrari’s German driver Sebastian Vettel take their warmup lap before the start of the German Formula One Eifel Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit in Nuerburg, western Germany, on October 11, 2020. (Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP)

The 2021 Formula One campaign will be a rebuilding year for Ferrari following a disastrous 2020 season, boss Mattia Binotto said on Friday at the team launch.

Ferrari will unveil its 2021 cars next month, but they will largely be based on the 2020 version which delivered the team’s worst results in 40 years.

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“In 2021, we will focus on developing the car of 2022,” Binotto told a virtual press conference.

“This will be the main objective and therefore we won’t spend much time on the 2021 car during the season.”

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Binotto pointed out that facing changes in technical rules, a spending cap and the coronavirus crisis, Ferrari has frozen development as a cost-saving measure and is planning to unveil a new model for 2022.

“There is always a balance, it is a choice we have to make, 2022 represents an important change,” he said.

“So a large part of the effort will be devoted to it.”

Ferrari finished sixth in the constructors standings last year with 131 points – 442 points behind world champions Mercedes and 188 behind second-placed Red Bull.

“The gap with the leaders was substantial”, said Binotto. “It is not something that can be corrected in one winter”.

Binotto was joined by the two Ferrari drivers, 26-year-old Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who is replacing Sebastian Vettel, and 23-year-old Monegasque Charles Leclerc.

They form, Binotto said in an accompanying video, the youngest Ferrari driving tandem since 1968, adding “we intend to construct our future round them.”

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Binotto said he planned to skip several races this season to stay at team headquarters in Maranello to focus on developing the car for next season.

But, he said, “we know that we need somehow to do better in 2021.”

“Certainly last year was a big, big disappointment,” he said. “We know that we cannot repeat such bad results.”

The SF21 car, which is due to be unveiled on March 10, two days before pre-season testing at the Bahrain International circuit ahead of the opening grand prix in the Gulf kingdom on March 28, will be fitted with a new power unit.

‘Realistic’

“We think the car is more efficient both aerodynamically and in terms of the engine,” Binotto said, arguing that the lack of speed on the straight that was a problem last year has been corrected,” Binotto said.

“I’m not saying that we will win. I think that we need to be realistic.”

In a jokey conversation on the promotional video, Leclerc said: “Carlos wants to beat me, I want to beat him too.”

But, he added, “we have to work together to move the team forward in terms of development.”

Sainz, the son of two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz, echoed the sentiment.

“I think there’s something more important we have to keep in mind, which is making Ferrari move forward together,” he said.

“If there is one year we have to work well together, it’s this one. When there’s a world championship or something special (at stake) we’ll worry about each other a bit more.”

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