Ferrari had its worst F1 season for 40 years in 2020 as it fell to sixth in the Manufacturers’ Championship, scoring just three podiums.
The team was hampered by a lack of straight-line speed and a drag car concept, issues they sought to address with the updated SF21 car for this year.
So far, the results have been positive, with Charles Leclerc qualifying fourth for each of the first two races. Leclerc finished fourth at Imola two weeks ago, leading his local teammate Carlos Sainz Jr to fifth place.
He put Ferrari at the front of the fight in midfield, taking on McLaren, and showed the team are up again after last year’s struggles.
Team principal Binotto acknowledged that it was a relief to see that the team’s development work correlated between the factory and the track, which helped him bring his performance into the good direction.
“I think the relief is to see that we are developing in the right direction,” Binotto said.
“It is important to see that the simulations [and work in the] wind tunnel now have a better correlation on the track than it was in the past.
“It gives confidence in the tools and our ability to design for the future. It was, I think, the most important [thing] and I think in that regard it is a relief.
“Certainly the fact that the car is more efficient, so that we can have a better result at the end of the race weekend, is important.
“We would often say that our performance last year was not acceptable for a Ferrari brand, so we knew these areas were important to us, showing developments in all areas.
“Again, I think the performance is definitely a relief.”
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
McLaren are currently seven points ahead of Ferrari in the team standings thanks to Lando Norris’ podium at Imola, clinching after passing Leclerc on the restart after the red flag.
Binotto said that while it will be a close year-round battle with McLaren, Ferrari’s biggest goal is to keep moving forward in all areas.
“I’m already happy with what we’ve achieved with the progress, but as I think it will be a close battle with McLaren for third place,” Binotto said.
“Is this our goal for the season now? I think our goal, as I have said many times, is to always prove that we can make progress in all areas.
“I think we can do it. It’s really a question of mentality and I think we will see the result in the end.
“What is important for me in the end is to show that we are able to progress and on that, we have a good starting point.”