Mattia Binotto, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

Binotto will skip some races this year to focus on Ferrari’s 2022 project

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In the round-up: Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says he will not attend every round on the 2021 F1 calendar.

What they say

Binotto, who missed several races last year, said he will do so again as part of Ferrari’s efforts to maximise its development opportunity for the new 2022 regulations:

Last year I missed some races because at the end there is an entire company to manage and it’s not only the race weekend at the race track, there is a lot of things going on back at the Maranello, a lot of people to manage, to coordinate the activity itself.

This year will be hopefully a 23-race championship. It will be very long, it will be very intense in the second half. And there is quite a big challenge for 2022 as well to face. So my intention will be again not to be at all the races during the 2021 season.

Certainly I will be part of the start of the season itself, that will be important to assess our performance at the start, to make sure that everything is working well on the race track. But at some stage I will start missing some races and being back at Maranello concentrating on 2022.

Obviously when being back at Maranello, we’ve got our [virtual] garage so I will be always in direct contact with the race track. But as well we’ve got a racing director on track, Laurent Mekies, who has obviously got a lot of experience now as well with us. He has proved last year to be capable of dealing [with] and leading the entire team over the race weekend. So I’m comfortable for the choice and comfortable not being sometimes at the race track.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

F1 has elite exemption for UK staff

Reports elsewhere yesterday that Formula 1 has been unable to get the British government to grant “elite sportsperson exemption” to F1 personnel are wide of the mark, RaceFans understands. The exemptions, which were in place last year, allow F1 personnel to travel abroad countries without having to isolate from others on their return.

An F1 spokesperson told RaceFans the reports were “completely wrong”. Britain’s exemption for F1 personnel, as well as those involved in other elite sports, was confirmed two weeks ago.

More F3 testing postponed

Formula 3 has announced a further delay to its pre-season testing. The planned test at the Circuit de Catalunya which was scheduled for March 16th-17th, will go ahead on a new date which is yet to be confirmed.

The test has been delayed as Spain has extended its ban on travellers arriving from the UK, which prevents British-based teams Carlin and Hitech from being able to participate. F3 previously called off a two-day test at Jerez this month for the same reason.

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Comment of the day

@Vjanik doesn’t see a reason for F1 to introduce sprint races:

What is wrong with qualifying? Why even spend time fiddling with it when F1 has so many problems to solve.

The qualifying format is fine and doesn’t need spicing up. Plus its cool to have statistics about pole positions and be able to compare with the rich history of F1. Also, they keep talking about cutting costs, but all they do is add more by making the teams do sprint races.

If only they spent half as much time trying to get rid of the need for DRS by addressing the root cause of why its hard to overtake. But that would actually involve some hard work.
@Vjanik

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On this day in F1

  • 55 years ago today Jackie Stewart clinched the Tasman championship with victory at Sandown Park in his BRM P261 ahead of Jim Clark and Graham Hill

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  • 16 comments on “Binotto will skip some races this year to focus on Ferrari’s 2022 project”

    1. “[Laurent Mekies] has proved last year to be capable of dealing [with] and leading the entire team over the race weekend.”

      Is Binotto asking to be relieved of his duties and be put back in a managerial role instead of an executive one?

      I don’t think his is the best leadership style for a company trying to climb back from a slump.

      1. I believe Toto Wolff is also stepping back from attending all race weekends, but I have always had the impression that Mattia enjoys his role less than other Team Principals (or whatever their job title is).

        1. @sparkyamg I haven’t read or heard anything about Toto in this regard. He didn’t attend the 2019 Brazilian GP, but this is the only occasion (thus far).
          Mattia indeed seems to enjoy his role less than the others to an extent.

    2. Re COTD: The aero and tyre changes for next year indeed intend to mitigate the need for DRS, so a lot of work has been done. I agree on QLF itself, though.

      So Imola’s S/F straight will be in Pirelli’s yellow this year rather than Emirates’ red.

      1. Mitigate, if not eliminate entirely.

    3. My reply to CotD with proper formatting:

      Plus its cool to have statistics about pole positions and be able to compare with the rich history of F1.

      Those same statistics include aggregate qualifying and other changes over the ‘rich history of F1’, @vjanik.

    4. Re F3: I guess testing can take place in April then.

    5. Here’s something that I think should be trialled for a few races in the future: remove blue flags. Think how exciting it would be if the two leaders were close together, then came across some backmarkers who they actually had to overtake, rather than have them just jump out of the way immediately. Now, I’m sure that most backmarkers would let the leaders through anyway, because why fight someone who’s not even on the same lap. But they wouldn’t slow down and pull off line when half a second ahead. They would just drive their own race, and probably just not fight at all if a leader got down the inside.
      Advantages:
      1. Being able to overtake would become a more important skill for the leaders in Formula 1, and teams like Mercedes would have to design their car to be better at following other cars.
      2. The cars being lapped wouldn’t have their races so badly affected by leaders coming through.
      3. Strategy would have a whole new factor to contend with, and there would probably be more strategic variation.
      4. No statistics in the history books would be ruined, or have to be messed around with.
      5. Of course, there would be a lot more overtaking in Formula 1. And not just drivers overtaking backmarkers; it would also increase the chance of an overtake for the lead. See Singapore 2018. Hamilton is leading Verstappen, in a very uneventful race at the front. They then come across two backmarkers battling for position (it was two out of Grosjean, Sirotkin and Hartley – I can’t remember exactly which two). They didn’t see the leaders coming because they were fighting for position, slowed Hamilton down, and Verstappen had a chance to overtake. Without blue flags, this race would then have been spiced up for a while as Hamilton and Verstappen battled behind the backmarkers, who were unwilling to yield, but if Hamilton held on in the lead, and was able to overtake the two backmarkers more quickly than Verstappen, he would pull out a bigger lead. So overtaking would be more important a skill.
      Disadvantages:
      1. It might be that the drivers, once they have been passed by the leader, do slow down and let the chasing pack by. This would mean that the leader had to fight for position, and the other cars didn’t, so the leader would have been unfairly disadvantaged, and it becomes a gimmick, and, as I have said before, there should be no gimmicks in Formula 1. We often see that, when a driver is struggling with their tyres, and is holding up drivers who have recently pitted, once one goes through they all go through. This is just part of motorsport, that once a driver gets put off line they can lose more places, but my objection would be if the lapped car then slowed down like they had been shown blue flags. Just being put off line is not a problem, as it is part of motorsport. But maybe this wouldn’t happen – it would need to be trialled for us to find out.
      2. If we’re honest, this could never work at Monaco. It is just too extreme. The next hardest track to overtake on is Singapore, and I think Singapore would just about be okay. But, if this became a thing at every Grand Prix, Monaco would have to be the exception where blue flags are brought back. Is it right to have one track that has different rules to all the others? Well, if it started as a trial (as it should) then of course some track would have different rules for a bit.
      3. It may be, and this is the problem most touched on, that Alpha Tauris would be more defensive against other cars than Red Bulls. And George Russell would help Mercedes, and Antonio Giovinazzi would help Ferrari. But would this happen? The only way to find out would be a trial, but if that one race where the Alpha Tauri drivers helped the Red Bull drivers changed the course of the championship, it would be a travesty. Some evidence to suggest the junior teams wouldn’t help is the 2010 Abu Dhabi finale, where Alguersuari blocked Webber, who was still very much in title contention, after Webber pitted. Also, Franz Tost was once interviewed where he was asked, ‘if your driver was leading, and a Red Bull was in second, would you ever say, ‘the Red Bull is faster than you…?” Tost’s answer was ‘I would say, ‘the Red Bull is faster, so you must push much, much more.” But of course, in this situation, he is a lap down anyway. But, on the contrary, Alex Albon said at the Nurburgring this year, ‘they race me so hard,’ suggesting that he expected the Alpha Tauris to help him. But then again, they didn’t help him. This is the most important issue.
      4. My final problem comes with an example, the BTCC 1996 finale in Brands Hatch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDKB_yFt7Zg
      Alain Menu leads the race on the last lap, with Peter Kox behind him. Kox’s teammate, Roberto Ravaglia, is ahead of them, and Ravaglia blocks Menu at the last corner and nearly gives his teammate the race win. Now this was totally illegal, but if there were no blue flags, would this be illegal? Was this ‘illegal blocking.’ There are penalties now for ‘illegal blocking’ in battles for position, which would still be the case for lapping without blue flags, but would a driver care about a five-place grid penalty or a drive-through (when they are a lap down anyway) if they’d just given their teammate the race win. As long as it didn’t get to the point of illegal blocking, it is no different to a battle for position. Teammates are often left out to hold up rivals. But would they block illegally?

      So, the only way to find out if these are issues or not is by trialling, but as I said with the third issue, even one race can have huge consequences on the championship. There is also the problem that it would become too extreme, with long trains of cars headed by someone a lap down dominating the race. The 2022 rules are designed to make overtaking easier, so maybe DRS could be scrapped except if you’re behind a lapped car to make it slightly easier to overtake them. Would that help? The only way to find out is by trialling. There’s absolutely no doubt that this would improve the excitement of the races, but if it gave some drivers unfair advantages, it can’t happen, because that makes it a gimmick and it ruins the sporting purity of F1.

      I cannot decide whether this is worth trialling. What do you think, racefans readers?

      1. I remember Minardi sponsors were said to be happy about Minardi’s running in last place because they got so much TV time with the leaders being held up behind them, I can’t remember if there were blue flags used at that time or whether they were used but the regulations were looser then, but it did make for interesting racing.

      2. @f1frog Totally against removing blue flags. It will just mean B-teams making life difficult for whomever the A-team car is fighting against, which is in reality is introducing unfair and unsporting elements into F1 just for show, and that’s anathema to me.

        1. While some people think top drivers in top cars should have to earn their way past backmarkers without blue flags I do not, and I think the majority of people would agree. I don’t think that’s what we are paying to watch, and certainly while the cars are so encumbered in dirty air blue flags should exist. But even next year onward when they will be less clean air dependent I don’t think they should rid themselves of blue flags. I like to think that there should be an etiquette amongst drivers too, in that in most cases a bloke shouldn’t need to be blue flagged, for what good would he be doing to anybody including the global audience, to try to impede the fight for the trophies, unless it was blatantly for political reasons, to help a teammate or a team whose pu they’re using.

          No, blue flags are there for a good reason.

    6. Also, totally agree with COTD.

    7. Ferrari writing off this year does not mean they will do any better next year. They need new structures, new chairmanship, new management, new everything. Which they won’t get.
      So it’s RB v Merc for the foreseeable future.

      1. I don’t disagree but at least they have the resources to try, and as well hopefully next year and onward other players might start to join the mix than just Mercedes and RBR. I’m putting a lot of faith in it becoming a much more driver vs driver series, but of course the car is still going to be a vital component and the majority component to a driver’s campaign.

    8. Ham twitter handlers could have been less hipster. Made him face the other way of the protest so the sun would not ruin the picture. A lot of influencers seem to jump into protests especially as you can blend in wearing masks, all for the clicks.

    9. Anyone can give some insight in what the Mick Schumacher tweet is about?

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