Scuderia Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto has discussed multiple topics starting from Sebastian Vettel’s deal, SF1000, F1 2021, COVID-19 situation and more.
Amid host of other things, Ferrari has another big task of its driver line-up going forward in 2021 as four-time F1 world champion is yet to decide whether he will continue racing or stop, especially after Charles Leclerc was signed in with a long-term future.
The relation between the two has been talked upon ever since Leclerc was drafted in Ferrari in 2019, just after one season in F1 with Alfa Romeo Racing. The Monegasque has surely done well considering his experience, while he continues to learn the tricks.
At the same time, Vettel has looked vulnerable and hasn’t been able to be consistent all-through for various reasons in recent times. The old charm is still there but given the situation and Leclerc’s progress, he needs to get over it sooner than later.
While websites continue to link him up with various F1 teams, Binotto spoke to the official Formula 1 website, where he revealed about the contractual talks between him and Vettel. “We have started discussing a new deal,” he said.
“It’s important we address it quite soon. It’s not something we will leave until the end of the season. It’s important for him and for ourselves to get clarity as soon as we can. Discussions are ongoing, and hopefully that will be done soon.
“He’s in a very good shape. I think he’s focused. He knows he needs to do well. It’s a key moment of his career, because whatever he may do at the start of the season will be important for his renewal. It’s in his hands. So I think he’s very motivated.
“Last year was important for him. Charles’ performance took him by surprise. It’s not the case anymore, he knows where the benchmark and he knows what he needs to do, so I think he has prepared himself very well through the winter.
“He spent last year trying to understand what went wrong and making sure he does better this year.” Binotto stressed that talks have been held over the winter between Vettel and Leclerc to keep harmony and put Ferrari above everything else.
During the Barcelona tests, Binotto stated that team order will be put in place whenever needed, even though the drivers are free to race each other. On the car front, the Italian noted about the performance dip, especially on the straights.
Ferrari took a bold step in 2019 F1 season to be quicker on the straights by giving away time in corners but it didn’t work as they lost on some occasions due to their mistakes which then piled on the pressure along with Mercedes’ team effort.
Already in the Barcelona F1 tests, the drivers and Binotto affirmed that they have switched ideas and are now slightly quicker in the corners but have lost pace on the straights. “We have been a lot faster through the corners compared to last year,” he said.
“So the car is doing what we are expecting, being faster in the corners, but we’re slower on the straights. I think we believe that having more downforce should help us not only on a single lap but also in the race, like in tyre management and tyre wear.
“If I think of the race simulations we did, compared to single laps performance, we have been stronger on the longer stints. That’s the benefit of more downforce.” Binotto also added that the changes in the car will help Vettel after issues in 2019.
“I think so that it should be more suited to Vettel, at least from the first indications of Barcelona,” said Binotto. “Having said that, one of the best skills of the great drivers is to be able to adapt to the car you have available and to get the most out of it.
“For our part, we must try to help them achieve this, which we do with both drivers.” At the same time with Leclerc, Binotto was confident that he will be much quicker in his second year with the team. Amid all this, the COVID-19 situation has affected all the plans.
With races not happening and the F1 summer shutdown brought forward, the development on 2020 is now stuck along with 2021. Binotto confirmed about a crunch discussion to delay the rules overhaul by a year to 2022 due to whole calendar changes.
“We will have a conference call with all the other teams, F1 and FIA to discuss the situation and the impact it has not only on this season but also on the next one,” said Binotto. “We must carefully evaluate every aspect and see if it is not really the case to think about possibly postponing the introduction of the new 2021 technical rules.
“In any case, Ferrari is ready to take responsibility for a choice that must be made in the ultimate interest of this sport, it is certainly not the time for selfishness and tactics.” It looks like the decision will see the 2021 rules to be deferred until 2022 for better prep.
This is all because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which initiated in China but has now reached to all corners of the world, with Italy worst affected outside the original epicenter. Binotto noted about the struggles Ferrari faced in travelling to Australia.
He welcomed the unanimous decision to have its F1 summer shutdown now as it will help every team member to be with their families in times of strain. Right now, Binotto and co are waiting to see how they go about things amid loads of uncertainties.
Here’s news on early F1 shutdown
Here’s Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton having respect for each other
Here’s news on Ferrari helping Italian officials
Here’s news on Ferrari suspending work
Here’s FIA statement from WMSC
Here’s Mattia Binotto on Sebastian Vettel and his leadership
Here’s Charles Leclerc on cornering speed of SF1000
Here’s what Sebastian Vettel and Mattia Binotto said regarding their contract
Here’s what Mattia Binotto said regarding Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc
Here’s what Mattia Binotto said about the SF1000 performance