Team principal Mattia Binotto alluded to costly errors during the Russian and Brazilian Grand Prix races last year due to internal competition between drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc. “Ours is a team that still needs to improve, a team that is still young, and we need to learn from mistakes in the past,” Binotto said inside the Teatro municipale Romolo Valli. “We need to work on our reliability, which was one of our weak points last season.”
The new car, named the SF1000 in anticipation of Ferrari’s 1,000th F1 race midway through the season, has sleeker aerodynamics than last year’s SF90. “The back part of the car, everything sits a lot tighter,” Vettel said. “There’s a lot of work behind that, because it’s not so easy. We found some clever solutions.”
In their first year paired together, Leclerc and Vettel finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the drivers’ standings. In his debut season with the team, Leclerc earned the first two F1 victories of his career in back-to-back weeks in Belgium and Italy — and achieved seven pole positions.
“The approach is a little bit different, just because now I know the team, I know more or less the car,” Leclerc said, comparing to how he felt a year ago. “Obviously this year it’s a new car but it’s still an (update) of last year’s car.
“I prepared physically in the mountains to be fitter,” Leclerc added. “I tried to learn from the past mistakes. I want to be a better driver this year.” Vettel, the four-time F1 champion with Red Bull who is still seeking a first title with Ferrari since joining in 2015, won just one race and took two poles last year.
“I think it’s a step forward,” Vettel said of the new car. “I hope it will feel like that when I drive the car.” Binotto is also beginning his second season in his role as team principal, with Ferrari focused on a complete overhaul due to major rule changes coming in 2021.
“We’re not just looking at this season or the next race. Time in fact is our enemy. Think about it. We spend days, nights, weeks and months to gain a tenth of a second or a hundredth of a second,” Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri said.
“Therefore we are very much focused on the long term and that is exactly what Mattia is doing," Camilleri added. "I have great respect for his leadership skills and the way he is instilling a team spirit and a culture that will make us ever stronger and ever more successful.”
The F1 season begins March 15 with the Australian Grand Prix.
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