Mattia Binotto has reiterated the focus of Ferrari on reliability improvements after a run of costly failures has deeply impacted the works team’s championship challenge.
Charles Leclerc’s retirement from the Azerbaijan GP lead, and teammate Carlos Sainz’s hydraulic failure retirement from the same race make the Baku race one of the most pivotal moments in Ferrari’s season of two halves so far.
The subsequent power unit components change for Canada left Leclerc fighting his way through the pack come race day, climbing to P5 after the Mercedes pair found somewhat more pace than Ferrari had expected them to. Nevertheless it’s been a disastrous run of races for Leclerc, with Sainz’s P2 in Canada the faint glimmer of positivity in what has certainly been Red Bull’s time to pull away.
Reliability is therefore not only a concern for Ferrari, but also for its overall championship hopes – losing the way so dramatically and so suddenly in this fashion is not easily fixable, especially in a cost cap and engine freeze era, and it’s even more difficult to catch back up again. Mechanical problems on parts exported to the Italian manufacturer’s customer teams, Alfa Romeo and Haas, have also befallen these smaller outfits in the past few race weekends.
A crippling issue for Valtteri Bottas in Monaco FP1, for example, set the usually impressive Finn – Alfa Romeo’s dependable points finisher – back a huge amount for the entirety of that weekend. A failure for Zhou Guanyu and Kevin Magnussen in Baku and a problem for Mick Schumacher in the race in Canada are varying examples of Ferrari-powered mechanical gremlins that have crept into the equation over the last few weeks.
“The reliability is certainly important, as important as the performance,” summed up Ferrari team principal Binotto when asked if the reliability factor is the main one to decide the 2022 championship. “So the reliability I don’t think will be the only factor. I think development from now until the end of the season is another one as the budget cap and the reliability finally. So how is it possible [to have this amount of mechanical failures]?
“I’m not sure that [the power units] are a carryover if you look [in Ferrari’s case]. The power unit has a completely new design compared to the past and the problems we’ve got now is because it’s certainly a young project, there are limitations of the dynos which were not there in the past so we can not run much time, we are limited and this makes the exercise a little more complicated but I don’t know what are the problems… I can not judge on their side,” summed up the Ferrari chief.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, who has been at the helm of the Gene Haas-owned team since it joined the F1 grid at the start of the 2016 season, unexpectedly conceded his confusion at the failures and his disappointment at what appears to be a lack of communication from Ferrari in letting Haas know what failed on their cars.
“I was a bit surprised, also because in the first five races everything was going quite well,” Steiner stated on how Ferrari’s reliability fate has seemingly been turned on its head compared to at the season’s beginning. “The tests were good too, then suddenly the problems started. So yes, I was taken a little by surprise.
“If Mattia had any explanation, they would have solved the problems already. They are looking into the matter because, as disappointing as it is for us, it is perhaps even more so for them, given the fact that they are fighting for the championship. I don’t even know what broke, or why, on our car from the start. It’s one of those things you don’t worry too much about wanting to know, because even if I did, I couldn’t do anything about it anyway,” summed up Steiner.
It’s true that Haas is heavily reliant on the manufacturing side on Ferrari’s involvement in their team, and this link between the American brand and the Italian manufacturer is only set to continue growing. Haas have even set up their own office space in Maranello next to the Ferrari headquarters.
Binotto though, as team principal who operates trackside at each race for the Ferrari team, is not solely or directly involved in the power unit program or the distribution and management of relationships with the outfit’s two customer teams. When asked after the race in Montreal what had happened to Schumacher’s Haas to cause the German to stop the car out on track with a technical problem, Binotto replied:
“I have no answer for that. Obviously I saw that he retired but I have no feedback at the moment about what happened so I can not judge and I can not say anything.”
Here’s Mattia Binotto on FIA lawyer hiring
Here’s Charles Leclerc, Mattia Binotto on recovery
Here’s Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz on Canadian GP