Ferrari announced last week a restructuring of their technical department to help the team be more agile thanks to a simplified chain of command.
Speaking at Ferrari’s team launch, Team Principal Mattia Binotto declared that he has decided to reduce the number of races he will physically attend this season – thus, enabling him to spend more time at the Team’s factory and focus on the preparation of the 2022 car.
Ferrari has been struggling – the sport’s oldest, most famous team, arrived fifth in the constructors’ standings last year as if they were an average mid-field team and not the most successful team in the sport.
After last year’s mediocre – to say the least – performances, Ferrari’s TP admitted that they had to “make a decisive change”.
“We have said it several times, but it’s worth repeating: we have started to lay the foundations of a process which should lead to a new and enduring winning cycle,” he added.
“It will take some time and we will suffer setbacks like the one we are experiencing right now in terms of results and performance.”
Ferrari has not won a driver’s championship since Kimi Raikkonen’s success in 2007 and their last constructors’ title was in 2008. They got close in 2018, but never really posed a challenge to Mercedes and Red Bull.
Binotto confirmed that Ferrari will “not spend much time” developing the 2021 car, which will present only slight adjustments, instead, they'll be placing most of their focus on the new regulations that will arrive in 2022 – hopefully, allowing the Italian team to go back to its glory days and enhance their current unfortunate performances.
Binotto already missed some races towards the end of the 2020 season – he wasn’t on the track of the Turkish and Bahrain GP. Those were trials to see how he could work as a TP from Maranello’s remote garage. Moreover, he missed the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix due to illness. On all three occasions, on-track responsibilities were taken on by Ferrari’s sporting director Laurent Mekies
“Last year, I missed some races because in the end, there is an entire company to manage and it’s not only the race weekend at the race track.
Given the challenge posed by the 23-race calendar for 2021, Binotto believes it is crucial for him to scale down the number of GPs he will physically attend, so as to have more time back at the Team’s factory and focus on the development for 2022.
“There are a lot of things going on back at Maranello, a lot of people to manage, co-ordinate, and the activity itself.
“This year will hopefully be a 23-race championship. It will be very long, it will be very dense in the second half, and there is quite a big challenge for 2022 as well to face.
According to what he stated during the team’s presentation, his intentions are of attending the majority of races in the first half of the season, because those will be crucial to assess the car’s potential and to understand whether there was an improvement, compared to the 2020 campaign.
"My intention will be again not to be at all the races in the 2021 season. Certainly, I will be part of the start of the season itself. That will be important to at least assess our performance at the start, to make sure that everything is working well at the race track.
“But, at some stage, I will start missing some races and being back at Maranello concentrated on 2022.”
Despite his non-physical presence, Binotto stressed that he would still be heavily involved with the race weekends, just as he did in 2020. However, it is clear that Mekies would again take over his duties on-site.
"Obviously when [I’m] back at Maranello we’ve got our remote garage, so I will always be in direct contact with the race track,” Binotto said.
“But as well we’ve got our sporting director on track, Laurent Mekies.
“He proved last year to be capable of dealing and leading the entire team over the race weekend. So, I’m comfortable with the choice and comfortable not being at the race track sometimes.”
What comes out from Binotto’s words is a clear statement for their Tifosi – 2021 will be a new year of suffering, hopefully not as much as the previous season – but, it sounds clear: Ferrari is already looking forwards to 2022’s change in regulations, hoping to find a way to spin the wheel