Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has admitted that Formula One’s most successful team were trapped in a “storm” as they head towards their home Italian Grand Prix next weekend – but he rejected talk of a crisis.
After another disappointing outing in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix where Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finished 13th and 14th, Binotto said Ferrari needed “reaction and determination” and had to remain united.
“I think it is wrong to use the word crisis for the moment we are going through,” he explained.
“Certainly, this is a very bad result within a difficult season that we are experiencing, but we knew it was coming.
“We saw it in winter testing and then came ‘the freeze’ and the impossibility to develop the car.”
Ferrari’s 2020 slump reached a new low on Saturday when after Vettel wound up last in third and final practice, the team faced the prospect of failing to progress from Q3 in qualifying.
That would have been an ignominious failing as a ‘works team’ from the sport’s oldest and most celebrated competitor, particularly if their customer teams – Alfa Romeo and Haas – had out-performed them.
Instead, the ‘scarlet scuderia’ pulled themselves together and scrambled through to Q2 and were beaten in the race only by one customer car driver – their own old boy 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, of Alfa Romeo, who was 12th.
Binotto blamed the unique characteristics of the long and majestic Spa-Francorchamps circuit for Ferrari’s problems last weekend and said the team had to use their feelings of bitterness and frustration to overcome them.
‘Bitterness and frustration’
“We all take responsibility for this situation,” he told Sky Italia.
“I take that, as team principal, as well as all those who work at Maranello. We’re all in the same boat.
“But although the team is in the middle of the storm, we are very united. There is no crisis. No tension… There is bitterness and frustration in each of us, but I believe that this frustration must be transformed into reaction and determination.”
He added that he felt for the ‘tifosi’, who will not be in attendance at Monza as F1 continues the 2020 season behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We understand the fans. We are very sorry. We are the first to admit it and we are sorry for them too. What is happening, in fact, is that we have a car that has lost power just as all the engine manufacturers have lost it.
“We more than the others. Last year, the engine partly covered the limits of the machine, but this year it is no longer the case. The limits of the car are emerging and on that point it is clear that we must improve.”
Ferrari won the last two Belgian Grands Prix — in 2018, with Vettel, and 2019, with Leclerc’s maiden F1 triumph – and were victorious last year at Monza, where Leclerc claimed their first home win since Fernando Alonso in 2010.
That success, however, has been tarnished by rumours surrounding the integrity of their power unit – which was overhauled with the introduction of new regulations this year, following a secret deal between Ferrari and the sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA).
Before 2019, Lewis Hamilton had won four of the previous five Italian races in a run broken only by team-mate Nico Rosberg’s 2016 triumph en route to winning the world title.
By an ironic quirk of history, Ferrari will follow Monza by hosting the Tuscany Grand Prix to celebrate their 1000th race a week later.