BUSINESS

In view of worst season in years, can Ferrari bounce back in 2021?

While the dark red might provide Formula One with its most famous livery, when it comes to recent performances, even Ferrari admits they’ve been a bit off color.”Because our performance of last year [was] so poor, when you’re starting from that point, I think you cannot be confident on how eventually you are competitive in 2021,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto recently told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies.It’s a brutal analysis that won’t immediately instill confidence in Ferrari fans after the team’s worst year in Formula One since 1980.Binotto oversaw an eighth and 13th finish in the drivers’ championship standings and a sixth finish in the constructors’ championship in 2020, which was a dramatic regression for the historic Italian team and prompted a large-scale internal restructuring.Binotto looks on before the Portuguese Grand Prix. Binotto looks on before the Portuguese Grand Prix.In a sport where year-on-year progress is demanded, the lack of results and dip in performances also focused scrutiny on Binotto and Ferrari’s drivers, notably Sebastien Vettel.For 2021, Carlos Sainz has replaced Vettel, joining Charles Leclerc in the famous red racing suits.Ferrari had a relatively successful season in 2019 — there were 19 podiums finishes and three wins between its two drivers — with budding superstar Leclerc and four-time world champion Vettel at the helm, reducing the gap to Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes cars.However, despite Leclerc’s brilliant second place finish in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix in 2020, Ferrari’s season quickly stalled as its car struggled with speed on the straight lines, both with power and drag.Binotto pulls no punches when describing last year as a “big, big disappointment,” one which they “cannot repeat,” though he hopes Ferrari can be at least “competitive” from the first race in Bahrain, which is on March 28.Leclerc driving the Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.Leclerc driving the Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.

‘Will to win’

Although the new token system means that parts of the car design has been frozen — postponing any possible development until 2022 — Ferrari have played their tokens on improving the back of the car.The token system imposed for this season means teams can choose where to spend development resources, but they are limited to only two tokens to improve certain areas of the car, while other areas are “frozen” and cannot be upgraded.While Binotto thinks the car will be better than last year’s edition, he and the two Ferrari drivers admit they won’t know for certain how much of a step forward they have made until all the teams race in Bahrain.While the car is a work in progress, Binotto is urging the team to control its mentality and their “will to win.”Managing a team with such a storied history — they have won the most world championships — the Ferrari team principal says he feels the “responsibility” of being at the helm, rather than any pressure.”Being aware of each single detail counts and I think determination will be again important and showing progress,” said Binotto.”So I think it’s really a matter of mentality, team mentality, drivers’ mentality and as team principal, no doubt, I’m fully aware of the responsibility I’ve got being part of such a team.

Source CNN

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