Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has written off his team’s chances of challenging Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for world championship honours this year.
The Italian made the painful admission at yesterday’s launch in Maranello, where Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard who has joined from McLaren, was unveiled in partnership with their existing driver Charles Leclerc.
Binotto’s position as team principal is under scrutiny after a miserable 2020, in which Ferrari suffered their worst season for 40 years, finishing sixth in the constructors’ standings with just 131 points, 442 behind all-conquering Mercedes.
Mattia Binotto is hoping for better after Ferrari had their worst Formula One season since 1980
Sebastian Vettel left the Italian manufacturer after six seasons to join Aston Martin for 2021
With the static regulations going into the new campaign, which starts in Bahrain on March 28, Binotto does not foresee an immediate radical uplift in results and is instead pinning his hopes on next year’s major overhaul of the formula.
‘We need to be realistic,’ said Binotto. ‘The gap to the best last year was not something you can recover in a single winter. Our focus during 2021 will be on developing the 2022 car.
‘We will not spend much time on the 2021 car during the season. I am not saying we will win (races in 2021), but our determination and commitment to focus on every single detail will be important.’
Carlos Sainz has moved from McLaren to form a new driver partnership with Charles Leclerc
Ferrari effectively conceding defeat before a wheel has been turned in anger is a boost to Hamilton’s hopes of adding an unprecedented eighth world title to his trove of records. It means Red Bull will act as the sole threat.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has vowed to continue his fight for equality in the sport, saying: ‘Last year some of us took a knee in support of equality, which I am proud of.
‘My question is, what’s next? The inequities within our sport and within the world persist. Change is still needed.
Ferrari’s last drivers’ championship came in 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen beat Lewis Hamilton
‘We must keep pushing to hold ourselves and others accountable. We have to keep striving for equality in order to continue to see true and lasting change in our world.
‘As long as I have air in my lungs, I will continue to fight for change in everything I do.’