Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Finishing third in championship would give Ferrari “serenity” in off-season – Binotto

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In the round-up: Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says the team will not be satisfied with third in the constructors championship, but will hold onto the positives of that position as it goes into the off-season.

In brief

Ferrari will get ‘serenity’ from beating McLaren in title race

Ferrari has key positives to take from finishing third in the standings this year if they stay ahead of McLaren, says Binotto, even though it means another year of the team failing to meet its “real objective”.

The early red flag in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix hampered Ferrari, whose drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr spent much of the race in battle en route to finishing seventh and eighth. They even battled each other for position on the final lap, and by finishing ahead Leclerc now has a 8.5-point advantage over his team mate, and Ferrari have 38.5 points in hand over McLaren with 44 left to score in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“It’s great to finish third but I think it’s really the best we could have done this year,” said Binotto. “We know that’s not the real objective for Ferrari. We know that we are the best, and the best hypothetical is still very big.

“But I think we can somehow be satisfied for this season, we are really looking ahead at the next one. Finishing third, somehow it gives us some serenity for the wintertime, trying to work well on what’s the next year’s car.”

Ferrari was the first to shut its factory when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, and also had a heavily disrupted build-up to the 2021 season due to the pandemic. Their Saudi weekend included crashes for both drivers, so to leave with a strong points haul has increased morale ahead of what looks to be a more ‘standard’ winter once the team returns to Italy.

Ricciardo calls F1’s title battle “a dream scenario”

In addition to being buoyed by his unexpected fifth place in the Saudi Arabian GP, Daniel Ricciardo was entertained by the battle at the front between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, which he even described as “battle royale” such was its intensity.

“It’s a really cool battle, it’s a great story, and obviously they’re going toe-to-toe and it’s a real genuine battle,” Ricciardo said. “Some part of envy not being a part of it, but ultimately for the sport and as a fan of the sport it’s a dream scenario.”

Ricciardo all but secured himself eighth in the championship standings with his performance in Jeddah, with 15 points between himself and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly behind. However the weekend’s race did confirm Ricciardo won’t beat his McLaren team mate Lando Norris in the championship this year.

Mercedes’ Formula E stars do IndyCar test

Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries will make up Mercedes’ Formula E line-up once again next season, but before that begins on January 28th next year they’ve been handed the chance to test IndyCar machinery.

Both were at Sebring yesterday. Vandoorne reuniting with his old F1 squad McLaren in the former Schmidt Peterson team it now holds a majority share in while FE champion de Vries tested with this year’s Indianapolis 500-winning team Meyer Shank Racing.

Also in action at the track were recent Formula 2 stars Callum Ilott and Jack Aitken. Ferrari junior Ilott was with the Juncos Hollinger Racing team he will race for next year, while Aitken was getting his first taste of the series with Ed Carpenter Racing as he targets a seat with the team for 2022.

Abu Dhabi GP’s F4 support race limited to 10 cars by freight delay

The non-championship Formula 4 United Arab Emirates round which was expected to take place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been confirmed with less than a week’s notice, after long-running speculation surrounding supply chain problems.

Manufacturing and distribution of data loggers and ECUs were already behind schedule. Freight delays also led to several teams being unable to compete as their cars remain on boats while those sent by air freight have managed to reach the UAE.

Of the four teams now confirmed to take part, Prema is the only one to reveal its line-up, including Mercedes Formula 1 junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

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Comment of the day

The FIA set a poor precedent with its penalty for Max Verstappen, says @Slowmo:

I think the big thing here is intent and the problem they have is there is some doubt around what the intention of both drivers was at this time. Regardless of everything it’s pretty clear the entire situation was created by Verstappen attempting to give up the place at the part of the track that would benefit him most and that is not in the spirit of the sporting regulations.

Whether he deliberately brake tested Hamilton or was just trying to manufacture the chance for him to not give up the place is debatable and that was likely what tipped the stewards to the 10s penalty rather than the 20s they could have given in my opinion.

I voted for fairly lenient in light that they at least gave a penalty that suggested a bit more than it being a minor infraction while also stating both drivers were likely using some gamesmanship.

It’s always dangerous to start saying penalties were not a penalty just because they didn’t influence the driver losing positions. That being said the entire conduct of Verstappen throughout the race with numerous incidents certainly warranted more than a slap on the wrist and I fear trying to protect the championship battle the FIA are taking us down a pretty poor route for the future given the precedents they’ve set protecting Verstappen this year. The suggestion from this race is you drive dangerously and only get a 10s penalty, that’s pretty scary stuff for the future.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Stretch and Matiascasali!

On this day in motorsport

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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34 comments on “Finishing third in championship would give Ferrari “serenity” in off-season – Binotto”

  1. A very reasonable COTD.

    I think I’ve finally come down from all the weekend drama!

    For me, the highlight of the weekend was Toto Wolff smashing his headphones. The slow motion version of it was pure art.

    1. @jaymenon10
      Indeed, watching that slow-mo made me feel a sort of happiness I haven’t felt in a long long time. It transcends art.

    2. @jaymenon10 @neutronstar
      Same. For me also Jos’ slow-mo QLF reaction.

    3. I was in a busy bar for the race – the cheers for that slow-motion were louder than anything that happened on track!

    4. @jaymenon10

      Not really. Both drivers created the situation by not wanting to go first over the line. Max went too far to force Lewis to overtake, but Lewis intentionally tried to make it impossible for Max to force the pass, by staying behind him. I’ve never seen such an unwillingness to pass, so it’s hardly the case that only Max was trying to force the situation.

      And it’s established precedent that the lead driver can choose where to let the rear driver by. Besides, you can easily argue that Max did so at the first available opportunity, even before Lewis was told, so it’s a weird accusation anyway.

  2. Geez, those S5000 wheels must be pretty soft to buckle and fold over so easily. Pretty scary for it to do that at the end of Conrod Straight!

  3. Record this round-up for history. For preservation. The peak of fenb0ism. How can you be so by as? Stop watching f1. If you only care about a driver you are not an f1 fan. What happened last race is JPM vs Schumacher x10. It is either by as or delusion. Your vision of what happened last race is 180 degrees off.

    1. Probably want to lay off the space cakes.

    2. Sir, this a Wendy’s.

  4. Ferrari has key positives to take from finishing third in the standings this year if they stay ahead of McLaren

    McLaren need a 1st and 3rd with a Ferrari double-DNF in Abu Dhabi to take 3rd place back in the Constructors’ — there is no “if” in Ferrari staying ahead of McLaren at this point.

  5. That being said the entire conduct of Verstappen throughout the race with numerous incidents certainly warranted more than a slap on the wrist and I fear trying to protect the championship battle the FIA are taking us down a pretty poor route for the future given the precedents they’ve set protecting Verstappen this year. The suggestion from this race is you drive dangerously and only get a 10s penalty, that’s pretty scary stuff for the future.

    My question is why? Is it desperation to recover losses due to COVID? Is it the new direction of the post-Bernie era? Is it the bending of regulations that are showing their fault-lines and overdue replacement? Is there genuine undue influence or corruption of officials? Is it just the way F1 is and will always be and we just haven’t noticed it because we haven’t seen such a close fight for decades?

    There’s an argument for all of it. At the end of the day the race is the race and it doesn’t really matter what anyone from the outside thinks about it, but as someone that’s always been fascinated by how and why F1 works, it’s certainly generating a tonne of intrigue. In the grand scheme of things I’m only relatively new to F1, but in the last 15 years I’ve only ever seen one thing so blatantly and obviously wrong. And that was crashgate.

    1. @skipgamer Maybe to protect part of the viewership. I’ve noticed that while the majority of comments are still about F1 more than a particular driver, we are getting more polarized comments (which are focused on a single driver) and usually reflect the driver supported in their tone.

      Could it be that FIA doesn’t want to upset some hard earned viewers that could switch off if their driver was brought back in the rank?

      Anyway, it is much too late to draw the line for this season now but while aggressiveness and different driving style are good to see on the race track, there is a limit and that’s the purpose of the rules, to keep everyone in a common playing field. Hopefully there is a reaction next year by setting things clear and square from the beginning (won’t happen but at least guidelines or a frame). Will it go through a new FIA president or evolved Masi? Who knows, one seems more likely than the other…

    2. @skipgamer

      I think that it’s more that Masi & co have gotten a lot of criticism and decided that the solution is to minimize the interference.

      This is a typical response by the incompetent, who don’t understand that the real issue is not the strictness, but the capriciousness of the officiating and the complexity of the rules (including distinctions that don’t seem to make sense, like the 10 car gap rule on some types of formation laps).

  6. I feel the penalty was fair.

    Verstappen tried to give the place back as soon as he was told and tried to do so strategically. He is not the 1st driver to do that. Sainz did exactly the same to Norris at Austin last month and got back ahead of him with DRS. Sainz was not penalized for that. I think the rules need some clean-up regarding how to give back positions in situations like this.

    Regarding the brake-testing, it wasn’t completely erratic. He seemed to be decelerating constantly – although on the racing line, which is not fair. To my naked eye, the final 2.4g of braking seemed more like braking due to him downshifting to 3rd, and not actual braking per se. Although, I can’t guarantee to have seen authentic footage of Verstappen’ telemetry as I don’t have access to F1TV. In that situation, giving him a harsher penalty (drive through / stop-go) would have been a tad unfair.

    Can’t F1 use rear lights to resolve these? Red for braking, blue for clipping / harvesting, yellow / orange for when driver is allowing the car behind to pass for blue flags / race director ordered..
    We know they can light up red and green (green for drivers w/o FIA license, if I am not wrong). Can’t we add more colors for it? It will also help in seeing at what points do different drivers brake. It can also help in situations like Sao Paolo turn 4 where onboard and telemetry were not readily available; but the brake lights could have helped show how late Max braked compared to Lewis

    1. Naked eye assessments are not going to cut it I’m afraid. 2.4g of braking is an absolute hammer blow to most normal humans – a typical road car generates around 1g at the most under the heaviest braking. These F1 cars are unreal.

      On the point of gaming the system, as sainz did in Austin, I reckon the stewards would have been within their rights to penalise sainz. The whole point of giving the place back is to negate the unfair advantage gained from going off track. If in doing that you set yourself up for regaining the position, you’ve not really redressed the balance.

      The solution to this problem – as we’ve discussed ad nauseum – is self policing track limits i.e. grass and gravel.

      1. Not all tracks can and will have grass and gravel. Don’t forget tarmac run-offs are safer compare to gravel and grass. Motogp drivers can flip on gravel and F1 cars at speed simply skate across gravel without scrubbing off speed. Tarmac run-off also allows recovery vehicles to reach the accident spot quicker. Tarmac also allows drivers who have come worse off in a hard but fair racing incident to not lose too much time or positions.

        There is merit in having tarmac run-offs. Merits which far outweigh the only drawbacks of tarmac run-offs – drivers cutting corners.

        1. @sumedh Driver never really cut corners, though.

    2. I think the stewards report said 2.4G, at 69 PSI, which indicates that’s the pressure put through the braking system doesn’t it? Which would mean he did hit the brake, rather than just slowing from changing gear as far as I understand.

    3. @sumedh Sainz-Norris is apples to oranges comparison as the distance between letting Norris by & re-passing him was considerably greater, so nothing wrong.

    4. I agree with your first bold comment – the rules need to be tightened up which would avoid silly gamesmanship issues which can lead to dangerous situations. It’s not just the two drivers involved – there are other drivers on track too who could have come up to them dawdling in the middle of the track jostling for a drs line.

      A simple solution which could solve this particular issue – when a driver is instructed to give a position back due to a penalty, deactivate his DRS for the next DRS zone or two, or a full lap if necessary. There could also be rules about how soon after allowing the pass you are allowed to re-overtake, say one or two corners later. I know the rule book is excessively long already but sometimes niche issues like this need to be addressed and I think the incident in SA highlighted why this one needs to be.

    5. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
      7th December 2021, 8:54

      To my naked eye, the final 2.4g of braking seemed more like braking due to him downshifting to 3rd, and not actual braking per se

      sumedh, Motorsport reports that the braking pressure was 69 bar – that’s enormous. Presumably they got that from the stewards’ report.

      1. Imagine downshifting causing engine braking so effective it causes 2.4G of deceleration (the best supercars on cup tires can’t even pull 2G with a full ABS assisted panic stop) acting on the rear wheels alone, without significant aero load, nary a hint of lockup! A lot of these apologists aren’t really thinking, they’re just throwing excuses that favor or excuse Max’s erratic driving, hoping anything will stick. Lol!

  7. The sad thing about last weekend was that:
    1) Max was 1 corner away from one of the best qualifying laps of his career, the kind that would have been remembered strongly.
    2) his overtake at the 3rd standing start was an excellent move
    …but these things will be forgotten in the controversy and fallout from his other actions.

  8. This is now become a trend of sorts–McLaren get their bulk of points in the first half of the season and then fall of a cliff in the second half. Makes me wonder about their in-season development–going by the numbers, it seems to be one of the worst for a top 5 team or maybe the worst on the entire grid. They have scored just 13% of their total points in the last six races. That’s 39% of their total points in the last 11 races [after Silverstone & including their 1-2 at Monza]. Remove Monza and this drops to 23% of their total points in 10 races. Since Silverstone, Mclaren have 106 points to Alpine’s 109 !!
    Mclaren are now 4th in the Constructors standings and will finish 4th. Norris who was once P3 in the standings, is in danger of finishing 7th–less than five points separating him and Sainz.

    1. has* now become

    2. Mclaren had/have significant financial troubles, so I’d expect them to have pivoted to the ’22 regulations very early this season. Ferrari have likely invested more in this season alongside working to the next set of regulations.

  9. I share COTD’s view. 20-sec, a post-race drive-through penalty converted to a 20-second time penalty what Kimi got in the Austrian GP, or a post-race 10-second stop-and-go time penalty converted to a 30-second time what Latifi & Mazepin received in the same race, & Kimi in Imola.
    These options would’ve been fairer & I hope not handing out more than 10-sec won’t prove crucial for the WDC. Nevertheless, given recent form, i.e., Hamilton being outright faster in race-trim, I reckon he can also win the Abu Dhabi GP on merit & thus achieve the bare minimum he needs.

    1. I wholly expect Max to dive bomb Lewis at the first opportunity to make it look like a racing incident. A what happened at Monza level of petulance.

      And then over Christmas and New Year both championships will be contested in the courts.

      Only then, when the brand is being dragged through the mud, will things change in F1.

  10. One thing I’ve not seen mentioned by many is Liuzzi being the driver steward at each of the contentious races (where Max has received a seemingly lenient penalty). There’s a strong Red Bull connection there into the stewards room …

    1. TBF it didn’t stop RB/Max/Marko/Horner condemning them all as they have done with numerous other stewards during Max’s reign.

      1. Marko and Horner are on “auto condemn mode” they will spit attacks at any thing, even thing in their favor like the opportunity to negotiate a penalty!

    2. JC,
      I think Liuzzi still remember that he was dropped twice by RBR and Toro Rosso…

  11. Ferrari can stay serene in the off season then, since 3rd place is realistically speaking guaranteed.

    1. As well as mercedes’ first place ofc.

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