Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2021

Ferrari’s 2021 recovery puts team on path to “final objective” – Binotto

2022 F1 season

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says the team’s recovery in the 2021 season provides a solid foundation to chase their “final objective” of clinching its first world championship since 2008.

Following a miserable 2020 season in which the team slumped to sixth in the constructors’ championship – Ferrari’s worst finishing position for 40 years – they improved significantly in 2021 to take third place behind Mercedes and Red Bull.

Looking back at a season that yielded two pole positions and five podium appearances, Binotto says that Ferrari’s recovery provided proof of their resilience to themselves as well as their rivals.

“For us it was more important as a team to prove to ourselves first that we are capable of addressing the main weaknesses and improving the product itself, improving our performance and closing the gap to the top teams,” said Binotto.

“What has been done in 2021 creates a solid foundation for the future.”

After the disappointment of 2020, Ferrari virtually doubled their average points per race from 7.7 in 2020 to 14.7 this season. Binotto says the team achieved its three main goals they set for themselves for 2021.

“The first was trying to close the gap to the top teams,” he explained. “We knew that it would have been very difficult because some of the 2021 [car] would have been a 2020 car with as few modifications as possible. Only two tokens, some restrictions as well on the aero regulations because of the wind tunnel occupancy which was somewhat limited. But certainly, in our objectives, trying to close the gap to the top teams was important.”

Ferrari, Binotto explained, had halved their average gap of 1.3 seconds in qualifying sessions to Mercedes in the 2020 season to six tenths of a second in 2021.

“The second [goal] – something I always, always mentioned – was try to improve in all areas over 2020,” he explained. “Especially at the racetrack – which, for me, is race preparations and race management.”

The final target Ferrari had achieved, Binotto continued, was in looking ahead to the future by building a “solid foundation” for the team to launch from with their revised power unit.

“First, it’s the people, so the team spirit,” Binotto said. “The second, is development on the hybrid power units. We knew that, coming from 2020, the situation in terms of speed and gap to the best in terms of power was very difficult. So certainly pushing and developing the hybrid was something important.”

Binotto says Ferrari have established four pillars of their team culture to help achieve their “final objective” of a world championship – innovation, viewing mistakes as opportunities, a collective sense of responsibility and team spirit.

“We are working a lot now since Monza, more than a year ago, back in Maranello, to really try to improve not only the team spirit, but what I would call our ‘culture,'” Binotto says. “And we did, months ago, an important teamwork workshop to try to find out what were the behaviours that were important in order to become better in the future.”

Ferrari’s 2022 car, Binotto claims, was designed through a deliberate effort within the team’s engineering team to “think outside the box”.

“If I look at the 2022 car and the 2022 power units, believe me, there is a lot of innovation in it,” Binotto said. “I think that the way that the entire engineering team has faced the new design, the new project, the 2022 regulations – which were a big discontinuity – was certainly with a more open mind than before.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2021
Ferrari rebounded after dire showing in France
Pointing to the example of the French Grand Prix, where tyre graining problems saw both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr fall down the field, Binotto says the second area of the team’s focus for the future was how they respond to mistakes.

“It’s trying to understand it’s an opportunity – no blame, no finger pointing,” he explained. “There are plenty – many that are internal, not visible from outside.

“I think that the best example of this season is the one that you all know – the tyre management and the problems we had in Paul Ricard. I think we arrived there maybe not fully prepared in terms of tyres, knowing that it would have been a difficult race for us for that aspect.

“I think that since then, in terms of race preparation, we’ve put a lot of effort trying to learn from that mistake. And I think that the team, in that, did no blame inside. A constructive approach. I think that even Carlos mentioned it, that he was impressed to see how the team reacted to the problem. But for me, it has been again a good opportunity to show that our spirit, our culture, our approach to the mistakes are certainly different today.”

The two final core elements of Ferrari’s new culture, according to Binotto, are their shared sense of collective responsibility and team spirit.

“In Italian, we say ‘infinie l’essere squadra’, which, for me, is even more stronger in Italian,” he said.

“And it think that here, the drivers’ behaviours are showing it. I think that’s the best example we may see. In creating the solid foundations on the team spirit. I think it’s showing what we are doing and I think that, for me, it’s a key one.”

With the overhaul of car regulations for next season Binotto says that Ferrari have hired over 30 staff from rival teams to help prepare to take advantage of opportunities offered by the new rules. The team’s 2022 car is set to be launched “mid-February”.

“The project is going according to plan,” Binotto said. “That’s first.

“We know that we have no references to the other competitors. I think that’s the most difficult one. We have no rumours on what’s going on with the others. What’s important to me to know that somehow we are reaching our objectives and it’s progressing to plan.

“We’ve got a budget cap since 2021, which will be even more restrictive next year. Again, a big challenge. But on all of that, I have to say that the team is well organised and today is working for me strong. The team is stronger than the past.”

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27 comments on “Ferrari’s 2021 recovery puts team on path to “final objective” – Binotto”

  1. Look at that picture. In the 90s the 1st row of those ppl was almost an entire team.

    1. Absolutely. Here a quarter of them are working on just the front wing..probably :)

  2. I love these people who spew out words as though they know what needs fixing, they make me laugh.

    Ferrari – if you want to get back on top then stop giving jobs to friends and family.
    Employ professionals who know what they are doing.

    1. @nullapax and where exactly have they been giving “jobs to friends and family” and not “employing professionals who know what they are doing”?

    2. I love these people who spew out words as though they know what needs fixing, they make me laugh.

      … and then you proceed to tell Ferrari how to fix their team.

      The irony is palpable.

    3. @nullapax Giving jobs to “friends and family” is a long-standing problem of all Mediterranean countries not just Ferrari just saying.

      1. @cobray
        Can you name any of the Ferrari team member, just one, who is a relative of the Elkann/Agnelli or Ferrari family ? As far as I’m concerned none of the well known senior staff can be considered as “family and friends”.

      2. @cobray I struggle to think of a country that doesn’t have it to some extent. Suffice to say it’s been many years since Ferrari was such a company as to use that recruitment strategy.

    4. Ferrari have a long standing tradition of “Keeping it in the family”

      Come on guys, open your eyes?

      1. @nullapax again, as requested before – can you actually provide evidence for this for any individuals within Ferrari? Where are these “jobs to friends and family” supposedly going, rather than “employing professionals who know what they are doing”?

        Senior Ferrari staff include figures such as Iñaki Rueda, David Sanchez, Laurent Mekies and Loïc Bigois, to name a few – none of those individuals have any relations within Ferrari, so there is no familial influence there. Meanwhile, those individuals were clearly in demand from other teams – Mekies spent time at Toro Rosso, Rueda at Jordan and Renault, Sanchez at McLaren and Renault, whilst Bigois has a legacy that started all the way back at Ligier, winding its way through Williams, Honda and Mercedes before going on to Ferrari.

        The onus is on you to be providing evidence for your assertions, because the vague nature of your response gives the impression that you are refusing to give a clear answer because you don’t have a way of being able to back up your position and are trying to bluff your way out of a position you cannot support. Rather than vague hand waiving or generalisations, can you actually provide multiple clear and provable examples of current Ferrari staff to support your position?

    5. Sorry not true. What is true is that many employed are Italians, just as many of the other teams when based in the UK hire a bulk of the talent from the UK. You have to look only at the top – principal, drivers, designers to make that assertion and this is clearly not true.

  3. I remember when last season “experts” but were really hopeless people were calling for Sir Binotto to be fired from the team because of our bad performances
    He is the smartest Team Principal in technical terms and the others couldn’t come close
    Even if we don’t win next season I am happy of the changes behind the scenes and I believe 100% in our Team Principal

  4. Ferrari’s choices over the past 12 months make me suspect they’re quietly confident about 2022. They agreed to a future engine freeze when their engine was widely considered the worst – did they know by then they had something figured out but not yet implemented? The drivers are also top notch and don’t need any adjusting. Though I have an outside bet on Leclerc winning the title next year so I’m quite biased!

    1. There are stories about the engine that showed there was nothing wrong with it but they had to use less fuel compared with the other teams as punishment for the year with illegal fuel sensors.

  5. All 🅱️art of the 🅱️lan, 🅱️oss.

  6. The team did a good job this season, considering how poor the car was in 2020. Not only was the PU (especially the ICE) underpowered, but also the chassis was a mess. It had a weak front end, an unstable rear end and far too much drag. They managed to fix most of it and could’ve or should’ve won at least one race.
    They were still lacking downforce on the front axle, overall aerodynamic efficiency and power (accroding to AMuS about 20 bhp after their upgrade), but it was still a decent step forward.
    They also vastly improved their pit stops, gaining 0.3 sec on average compared to last year. Their stops weren’t the overall fastest, but pretty consistent with 73% of them being completed in under 3 sec.

    The upcoming season will be make or brake for Binotto and Ferrari. They need to find at least another 10 bhp on the PU, compared to their rivals and need to have competitive aero and chassis from the very beginning to challenge for the title.
    They shifted focus to 2022 very early during last season, effectively just bringing one aero upgrade (new floor at Imola). They also put 2022-style aero rakes on their 2021 car in the second half of the season (FP1 at Istanbul and Abu Dhabi), trying to gather some data for next season. That’s not a bad sign.
    I’m interested to see how much they will be able to gain (or not) from their “superfast” ignition technology in their ICE. Ferrari said the results look promising so far, but I won’t buy any of it just yet. There is still the possibility of it backfiring and putting them at a disadvantage until the end of 2025. However, if it delivers on Ferrari’s expectations, it could put them in a strong position for the next 4 years.

  7. Good job Ferrari. Team boss is there for long time now, people seem to be working well for extended time, despite 2022 demanding full attention they. Managed to raise from 2020 car-tostrophy to a decent result this year.

    And drivers are good. Maybe not Max or Lewis level, but certainly both well balanced and capable of great results.

    If anything Seinz is even better than LeClerc, and LeClerc was even better than Vettel.. and Vettelcwas almost as good as Hamilton for some time.

    They are 1 good loophole away from title contention, be it engine or aero.

    And having Ferrari fight for title is 100% better than Mercedes & RedBull in my book.

    1. having Ferrari fight for title is 100% better than Mercedes & RedBull in my book

      To me it’s not who fights for the title(s) but how many.
      Which, for me, is even stronger in Italian ‘non chi ma quanti’.

      1. Yes, I liked 2018 where we had 3 teams fighting for the first half of the season.

  8. Hope they get into the title mix… well, them or someone else. McLaren maybe, or Renault as an outside bet.

    I’m having to assume Mercedes and Red Bull will do well, so it would be great for the overall health of the sport for a third team and more than two drivers to be involved. It might even do the wretched state of (many) online ‘discussions’ a world of good too… all the pro- and anti- crazies might be less venomous if they have to split their ridiculous, over-the-top keyboard-bashing in a couple of different directions.

    1. @neilosjames In an ideal world, we could get 4-6 drivers regularly battling for top spot, with both Hamilton & Verstappen dropping back into the mid to lower midfield for a season or two.

      This would get the over the top crazies to abandon their toxicity, and rethink their over the top hero worship.

      It’d be great to see a fresher set of faces at the top, without a team dominance. It’s wishful thinking, but it’d blow the minds of the most of Williams or Aston Martin launched up the grid and we had a Latifi or Stroll as WDC next year.

      1. @jasonj While I totally understand the idea of having fairer and open competition, in the same way pay drivers like Latifi, Stroll or Mazepin took spots in F1 they would never have in a fairer seat competition.

        1. @spoutnik History may tell a different story though, Niki Lauda was a pay driver, Schumacher only got a drive because Mercedes coughed up some cash. Some pay drivers can still be world champions, talent isn’t inherently diminished because of deep pockets, but of course, deep pockets doesn’t give you talent, just advantages.

          I doubt Stroll of Latifi will ever be world champions, but if they accidentally land in a world beater car, they will have a ton of fans screaming they are the GOAT all over every forum.

          1. @jasonj Indeed, maybe I should be more precise : underperforming pay drivers :P
            True that they are all pay drivers in some way and the cost of feeder series are notoriously an excluding factor. But at some point they have to perform, which is not the case for a few of them and money just keep them in their seat.

          2. @spoutnik that said, by historical standards, the likes of Latifi and Stroll are not underperforming anywhere near as badly as some historical pay drivers.

            Furthermore, we’ve seen more than a few drivers who were praised for their performances in junior series, but underwhelmed when arriving in F1.

            To pick a few examples, there were high expectation for Giovinazzi, given his performances in his rookie season in GP2, but he performed below expectations in F1. Vandoorne was expected to shine, but never really showed his potential, whilst the opinion on Tsunoda is quite mixed given that his performance fluctuated considerably over the season.

            Stroll might not be the best driver on the grid, but to be fair to him, he has shown a willingness to try and improve himself that is more than most pay drivers have done, and indeed even over some non pay drivers. Similarly, as noted by Keith in his analysis, Latifi has definitely shown signs of improvement over the year and, whilst Russell might have had an advantage in qualifying trim, Latifi was closer in race trim than the qualifying deficit might have indicated.

            They might not be thought of as stunning, but on the other hand, they seem to be doing a competent job. Expectations might not be high of them, but at the same time, I wonder how a driver who wasn’t given the “pay driver” tag might be perceived if they had performed to a similar degree against their team mates.

            Indeed, we have something of that situation with Tsunoda and Gasly – in some senses, Tsunoda performed even worse against Gasly than either Stroll did against Vettel or Latifi versus Russell.

            Tsunoda, as pointed out in the article for him, only beat Gasly once in qualifying – Latifi managed to bear Russell three times, whilst Stroll out-qualified Vettel eight times – and only managed to finish ahead of Gasly three times in the races, which was the same number of times as Latifi and much worse than Stroll (who also beat Vettel in that respect).

            In terms of what percentage of the total team’s haul of points came from that driver, Tsunoda, at about 22.5%, is also markedly worse than either Stroll (44.1%) or Latifi (30.4%). In terms of driver induced crash damage, Tsunoda was worse than Stroll too (whilst Stroll did have a higher total bill, that was mainly due to his car being written off after that heavy crash in Baku, where the tyre carcass failure was to blame rather than driver error).

            Being able to bookend his season with a couple of notable performances does mean that Tsunoda is being praised quite a bit – but was his season really any better than some drivers who are decried as pay drivers? Sometimes, I wonder if being tagged as a pay driver results in individuals being held to a tougher standard from individuals who want to conclude that they shouldn’t be in F1.

  9. Great driver lineup, maybe with Sainz Mclaren could have held 3rd

  10. This is the magic of numbers. Sure they were stronger, but quit whistling. A couple of different results and they would be behind McLaren for sure. You have to beat that top and win the WCC – that is what is expected from Ferrari. Else you are one hidden engine oil receptacle from dropping to last place.

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