Ferrari chairman issues verdict on short-term F1 prospects

Ferrari’s earliest hope of returning to winning ways in Formula 1 is now the big rules change of 2022, according to their chairman John Elkann.

F1’s most illustrious team has struggled at the start of this season amid acknowledged design problems with their current car and are fifth in the Constructors’ Championship after three races.

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In an interview with Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, Elkann admitted: “We aren’t competitive this year because of car design mistakes.

“We’ve had a series of structural weaknesses that have been present in the vehicle’s aerodynamics and dynamics for some time. We’ve also lost out in terms of engine power.

“Ferrari aren’t competitive at the moment. We’ve seen that on the track and will continue to do so. The target is to start a new cycle in 2022 when the rules will have changed. Ferrari have always been, and will always continue to be there. We’ll be competitive again and will target success. We’re confident.”

A fundamental change in aerodynamic rules was originally planned for 2021 but has been deferred by a year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sport. The current 2020 cars are instead being carried over to next season on cost-saving grounds, meaning Ferrari must continue with the current SF1000 next year.

The Italian team have already gone a dozen years without a world title and Elkann said: “I’m asking the fans for patience.

“They’re suffering as much as us, but continue to get behind us. That’s why it’s important for us to be honest with them. There’s a long road ahead of us. When Todt and Schumi began their historic cycle, we were off the back of a 20-year dry spell going back to 1979.

“We’ll give everything in every Grand Prix. You’ll see that (Sebastian) Vettel will also do his bit, but I don’t want to give them false hope. We’ll give our all in the final months of 2020 and in 2021 to get back to being competitive in 2022; that’s the aim.

“There will be more space and general competitiveness will increase. It’s hard to give an estimate and it would be wrong to create false expectations, but we’d like to be among the most competitive by 2022.”

Elkann made clear his unequivocal support for team principal Mattia Binotto.

“I have total faith in Mattia Binotto. He has all the ability and attributes to start a new winning cycle,” said Elkann.

“He was at Ferrari with Todt and Schumacher, he knows how to combine ambition and success. We have a solid base with him. We know our weaknesses, want to progress and start winning again with young and ambitious drivers.”

Although Elkann admits the delay to the new rules “penalises Ferrari a lot” given their current predicament, they agreed to both the deferral and a reduced budget cap as they welcome the “challenge” of a more competitive F1.

“Our managers, engineers and drivers will find the strength and creativity to take Ferrari back to the top,” he added. “I’ve personally not seen a closer and stronger spirit over the last 10 years.”

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