The Imola appointment inaugurates the return of Formula 1 to Europe after two years strongly influenced by the pandemic. With the distancing restrictions increasingly loosened, in the paddock of the Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari Mattia Binotto returned to meet the Italian journalists in attendance. The Team Principal of the Scuderia dwelt on various topics, from the behind-the-scenes work carried out in Maranello in the last two years to the current dynamics of a championship in which the Reds lead both world rankings.
Starting from Ferrari’s newfound competitiveness, Mattia Binotto declares that he has never laughed internally in the last two years in anticipation of what 2022 would have been: “In recent years I have never laughed and you could not laugh. I believe that when you find yourself in a situation like ours in the last couple of years, where you suffer criticism and you don’t get the desired results, you can’t smile. The 2020 season was truly one of suffering and when one suffers you cannot laugh. But there was hope, because I had faith in this team, I saw that it worked well and therefore there was the real hope of returning in 2022 with a competitive car. However, you can only verify this when you go to the track: Formula 1 is not an absolute sport that depends only on yourself, it also depends on what others are doing. One can be confident in one’s team that works well, but you are not sure what others are doing ”. Asked about the possible reasons behind the lack of results in the Scuderia’s recent past, the number one of the Cavallino retraces the history of Formula 1 in recent years: “We have to remember what history was like. There have always been cycles. I was there in ’99 and in 2000, when there were 21 years in which the title was not won. Now the title has not arrived since 2007 and although they are not yet 21, the situation is very similar. There are cycles that follow one another and just as there were difficulties then, so now they are there for us. However, if I look at 2017 it was an important year, because there had been a significant change of regulation, with the increase in the car’s track width, and the team was able to make a very good product, able to fight at the beginning. season with the Mercedes that until then had never had rivals. This is the same team that was able to do that good exercise in 2017. Since then we knew that we had to grow: we have gained experience, with a good exercise of the analysis of our limits and our weaknesses and we have also had shareholders who have had the courage, the desire and the will to invest in recent years not only in patience, but also in the resources and tools necessary to grow in order to be able to make the car we see today in 2022 ”.
Regardless of himself and how long the current positive moment of the Cavallino continues, Mattia Binotto can undoubtedly enjoy the current satisfactions after two years in which the Team Principal has shielded the entire team, publicly taking on most of the criticisms. However, Binotto confessed that he never hesitated on his position: “I never had doubts about who made me do it, for two reasons. Meanwhile, I don’t think my role is more important than someone else’s: we are a team and everyone makes their own essential contribution. I saw a team that remained united through difficulties and this gave me the motivation to believe in it and move forward. It is very difficult to open a cycle, but on our part there is no doubt that there is at least the will to try. This means that we try to look ahead, not only at the present, by building in a continuous and planned way. I think the announcement of Carlos’ renewal goes in this direction: at least until 2024 we have our duo of drivers, young, talented, but with their experience, who give us our solid foundations on that front too. We are trying to build our future step by step, it is a very long road. It is difficult to open a cycle, it cannot be improvised. Resources, planning, patience and stability are needed. If I look at the next few years I think it is more difficult than in the past, thinking about the various cycles that have passed, because I believe that the regulations will inevitably lead to greater convergence. For next year I expect competition between the various teams much closer than it has been in the past. Even if today one has a competitive advantage, he risks losing it not because he has not been able to develop it, but because the regulations will lead us to converge. That said, the best team will continue to win: who will have the best pair of drivers, the best engine, the best pit stops and everything in between. So to open a cycle, for our part when we talk about building we refer to being the best on all these fronts. […] When we talk about a team we talk about culture, attitude, behavior, tools, methodologies, skills… There is a whole series of issues that need to be touched upon and which together make a difference. It does not mean that we have arrived, there is a lot to do, but on our part the effort is there “.
Once the past was archived, Binotto then moved on to talk about the present of Ferrari and Formula 1. Among the issues most at the heart of the Red Summit is the control by the Federation on compliance with the spending ceiling: “The financial regulation is new, alongside the technical and sporting regulations. Today we have three regulations. The financial director is just as important as the technical director, because they both have to manage a regulation. I am not saying that there are gray areas, but how one applies it is an element of competitiveness as much as the technical part. It is important to be attentive and especially on the part of the FIA to make sure that everyone applies it fairly. I think the FIA needs to make a further effort on this front. It is a new regulation for her too, so when it comes to checking, the Federation must gain experience on what and how to check. For our part, we try to help, because we believe it is essential that these checks are carried out in depth “.
Turning to the performance of the drivers, Binotto does not express particular concerns about Sainz’s alleged difficulties in adapting to F1-75 revealed by the Spaniard himself in his statements: “I don’t want to contradict Carlos, but if we look at last year he had adapted better than many riders who had changed teams, but it still took him a few races to reach his maximum level. I believe that also this year is part of his attitude, that of studying and learning step by step, so much so that I am convinced that it will arrive very quickly. Already in Australia, regardless of the circumstances that occurred, he was very fast and capable of fighting for pole. Yesterday he too had the potential to take pole: looking at his times in difficult wet conditions, he was already very fast. So I think he is already adapting quickly to this race. If we ask ourselves about two adaptation races, we are talking about nothing. Charles on the other hand has a natural talent of his own in knowing how to adapt to the track and to all conditions. This natural talent of hers is emerging ”.
Ferrari arrives at Imola as the leader of both world classifications, having demonstrated that it can compete for victory in all the events held so far. However, the Cavallino Team Principal confirms the opinion he expressed at the beginning of the season, according to which it is not yet possible to draw a representative picture of the balance of power: “I still think that the true values will be seen after five or six races. We have only raced three Grands Prix to date and judging would be hasty. I think we will have to wait at least for Barcelona, because all of us, including the drivers, will have understood these cars better and how to extract their potential. We will all also bring some corrections and those who had problems at the beginning of the season will have time to correct them from here to Spain and only there I think we will have a more definitive judgment. Having said that, ours is an encouraging start: it is not that the balance will be upset from here to Barcelona, but there could be changes ”. Speaking of updates, Binotto does not want to discover the cards too much, but confirms that the resolution of the aerodynamic rebound is one of the priorities of the Scuderia: “We are not yet in place on the hopping and it is a performance limit, also because it takes away the confidence of the riders, and it is a potential for development.or. Resolving porpoising in a definitive way would represent a step forward for useven if he is not the only one “. Asked about the competition, Mattia also spent a few words on the chances of Mercedes’ recovery: “I find it difficult for Mercedes to reach our level, because today, if you look at their performance, they don’t have a single problem and I see them in some difficulty. They will surely get back together: they are a strong, solid team and have won the last world titles. I am sure that sooner or later they will correct and return to being competitive, but for this year I see it as a difficult exercise ”.
In his reasoning, Binotto shows that he already has an eye on the long-term dynamics of the championship: “I think it is always important to think about the points and that the satisfaction of the result must be a consequence. I think that in races like these at the beginning of the season, when you have a good car like ours, the priority is to finish the race, because if it doesn’t go wrong you finish fourth and these are always important points. More than taking risks to gain a position, it is better to consolidate ”. The Team Principal also does not rule out the possibility of giving team orders to drivers in the future: “It will not be painful, also because it will be shared by the riders. I think they have embraced our concept of a team and they know how important it is for the team to maximize points. Then I always repeat it with each of them: if letting one of ours win means preventing Verstappen or one of the others from doing it, that’s always a good thing. Our real rivals must remain the others and must not be internal to the team. I am convinced that an order would be shared “.
In closing, the Ferrari number one allows himself an emotional note on the dualism between Leclerc and Verstappen: “I think that between Charles and Max is a beautiful rivalry. If it is not this season, in which it already exists, it will be in the next ones and I believe that this is also the beauty of this Formula 1. There is a generational change underway, with young drivers with great talent who have always fought. As a Formula 1 fan, I think it’s nice to experience it ”.