Ferrari has halved its deficit to top F1 rivals in 2021, says Binotto

2021 F1 season

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Following its disastrous 2020 campaign, Ferrari says it has halved its lap time deficit to the quickest teams in Formula 1.

The team slumped to its worst performance for 40 years last season, taking sixth in the championship. However it has begun 2021 in much better shape, as team principal Mattia Binotto explained.

“If we take the average of the entire [2020] season, we were 1.4 seconds off the pole,” said Binotto. “Today we are at 0.7.”

Ferrari were over a second slower than the quickest lap time at the majority of races last year, and as much as two seconds away at some venues. They have taken two pole positions this year, but registered their least competitive performance last time out in Hungary.

Binotto admits their average deficit of seven-tenths of a second to Red Bull and Mercedes this year “is still a distance, it’s not negligible and we are fully aware of it.”

“But still, I think we halved the gap to the best,” he continued. “We halved to gap to the best. That is encouraging because the direction is the right one.”

Ferrari will bring a power unit upgrade later this season aimed at further reducing that deficit. But Binotto says the team has gains to find in other areas as well.

“That 0.7 is not only coming from one single area. It’s a sum of various areas, certainly aerodynamics, power unit, overall systems on the car.

“That is another point which is important: I don’t think we are lacking only one area. Lacking only on one area would be even worse because then it means that you need to recover a lot in a single area, which can be more difficult.”

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The team “strive to improve in all the areas”, said Binotto, who explained how Ferrari has also made significant progress with the competitiveness of its pit stops.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021
Leclerc put Ferrari back on pole position in Monaco
“I always consider that a good pit stop is below three seconds, what we call ‘to green’, so as well the driver leaving the pit [box]. It may seem a high number, three, but I always say that in a strategy it’s important to be consistent – not only fast, but consistent – because what’s destroying a race is sometimes you’ve got a problem and your stop may last 4.5, five seconds or six. That are the types of situation which are really difficult.

“If we look at the three seconds, how many times we’ve been below three seconds in 2021 so far, 84%, last year 48. So here again, it’s showing that in terms of the team, pit crew, mechanics, in terms of pit stops, we have certainly improved our pit stop time and our pit stop quality.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2021
Ferrari’s pit stops have got much quicker, says Binotto
“Looking at below three seconds, so as well under pressure et cetera, we were P8 in terms of classification so there were seven teams doing better to us, today we are P2 so there is only one team that has done better than us in terms of percentage below the three seconds. So that are the numbers showing that as a team, as a car, overall, there are certainly improvements in 2021 compared to 2020 and the direction is encouraging.”

Ferrari’s improved performance has helped it rise to joint third with McLaren in the constructors’ championship. Binotto said this shows the substantial progress it has made.

“We have achieved so far in the first 11 races 163 points, it was 80 points last year, up to the same number of races, so it plus 83 points, more than double from the same number of races.

“Last year we completed the season with 131 points. So we’ve got more points after the entire season last year. That certainly is showing big improvement.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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11 comments on “Ferrari has halved its deficit to top F1 rivals in 2021, says Binotto”

  1. So compared to Red Bull, last year mostly the 2nd fastest car, how did much did they gain, because it seems clear that Red Bull improved a bit, while Mercedes clearly lost pace compared to most of the rest of the field. If you compare yourself to relative gain made by Merc, it’s a lot easier to have clawed back; but the realistic view for a team trying to get to the top should be the Red Bull comparison then, I’d think.

    1. “If we take the average of the entire [2020] season, we were 1.4 seconds off the pole,” said Binotto. “Today we are at 0.7.”

      He is comparing to pole, not to Merc

      1. But Pole usually was Merc, wasn’t it @pastaman (only Turkey: Stroll, and Abu Dhabi: Verstappen weren’t Merc poles and in Turkey Ferrari was anyway disastrous, so that’s one where it would have been easy to be better, but we haven’t been there this season), so it is effectively almost the same comparison.

        1. By the way, I don’t dispute that they are looking more competitive (both drivers matching closely surely helps and they had less strange strategy mishaps; last year the car never seemed remotely able to get pole, this year Leclerc got there twice on pace, sort of).

  2. I understand that Ferrari is emphasizing their improvement compared to 2020, but it’s not that they are so great now, it’s that they were so bad last year (and we all know why *cough* engine *cough*). If you look at the WDC over the last 10 years, Ferrari was 2nd in half of those years. Last year they were 6th and now 3rd, so ‘nothing special, just right where they belong’.

    1. @matthijs
      The PU wasn’t the only cause for Ferrari disastrous 2020 campaign.

      The SF1000 was designed with the Type 064 evo numbers in mind. Ferrari went for high downforce philosophy counting on the engine power to compensate for the resultant drag. The technical directives of the FIA not only neutralised the Ferrari PU which was redesigned in a hurry over the winter just to comply but left them with a draggy car too.

      Furthermore, the Ferrari PU in qualy mode – which was also used in some part of the races – was generating an important amount of heat that impacts directly the aerodynamics of the car (airflow to be channelled) and the cooling system. After the TDs being issued by the FIA, Ferrari did have a problem with the lesser amount of heat that the new PU was producing which was reduced later in the season with an upgrade to the radiators.

      Ferrari also faced a structural problem with the the torsional stiffness of its new narrower gearbox that makes the car to understeer in an unusual way. The gearbox was made from titanium with a strengthening carbon fiber casing around it. The latter proved to be too weak, and was replaced by a thicker gearbox casing that compromised the whole suspension configuration and the aerodynamics as well.

      This problem was addressed this year with Ferrari spending its development token to upgrade the gearbox casing and rearranging the rear suspension configuration. The update to the rear suspension normally requires a development token though Ferrari argued that they used the same parts from the SF1000 rear suspension in a new configuration.

      1. @tifoso1989 Thank you for the extra insights

        1. @matthijs
          You’re more than welcome !

  3. Lately Binoto says too many things trying constantly to show the Ferrari improvements. Is his chair hot somehow suddenly?
    I really like the improvement they show since the start of the season with the constant improvement but i like more that they didn’t spoke about it and their results speak for themselves.

  4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    12th August 2021, 18:21

    If Sainz has the same car as Leclerc, wouldn’t that constitute a 50% improvement?

  5. How long have Ferrari been playing this game? They always talk themselves up, but in the end, there is no result.

    As Alonso said, Ferrari still have not won a championship, or even come close to one in the years after his departure. I would argue that, if Vettel was more consistent, he could have push Merc to the final races in 2017 and 18. A driver like Alonso may have applied a lot more pressure on Merc during those seasons.

    Ferrari lack strong leadership, its clear to see. This hybrid role that Mattia Binotto is holding doesnt work. Yes they may be improving, but they were at a nadir last year, so the only way is up. It also helps that they have a fantastic driver pairing. Lets see if they can take the next step up.

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