Binotto: Ferrari must show 'will to win' even if victories aren't possible

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Ferrari launches 2021 team in Sainz and Leclerc (1:54)

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc hope to bring Ferrari to the top of Formula 1 for 2021. (1:54)

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says it his responsibility to return the legendary Italian outfit to the front of the Formula One grid, but admits it may not be possible to win races this year.

Last year, Ferrari recorded its worst result in Formula One since 1980 by finishing sixth in the constructors' championship without a single race victory.

The team was caught on the back foot after an investigation into the legality of its engine at the end of 2019 led to clarifications to the power unit regulations in early 2020 that forced Ferrari to make changes to its engine at the cost of performance.

Maranello has developed a new engine for 2021 but cost-saving regulations have put restrictions on the changes all teams can make to their chassis this year.

Binotto takes the responsibility for achieving better results, but called on his team to show a "will to win" even if the car is not fast enough to beat main rivals Mercedes and Red Bull.

"Last year was a big, big disappointment and we know that we cannot repeat that result and we must somehow do better in 2021," he told an online press conference ahead of the launch of the new car on March 10.

"What I think will count more is our will to win. I am not saying that we will win, there are cars that have been very strong last year, and with the cars being partially frozen [in terms of development] means they will certainly be strong again in 2021.

"But I think our will to win is our commitment and our intention to being focused and aware that each single detail counts. I think determination will again be important and showing progress.

"As team principal I am fully aware of the responsibility I have got, being part of such a team. I think Ferrari is Italian excellence in a word, so I feel, not pressure, but the responsibility and pride.

"We simply need to do better and that is part of my first responsibility."

Ferrari's lack of engine power also exposed inefficiencies in its aerodynamic package last year, which had been built around the expectation of a more powerful engine.

Binotto said both areas had been addressed this year and that early simulations suggested decent progress had been made.

"I think last year the main issue was the speed on the straight lines, not on the power, but power and drag," he added.

"We've worked a lot on both sides: the power unit and the car's aerodynamics, to reduce the drag of the car, and according to our simulations today, based on what we are seeing in terms of power output from the dynos, from the wind tunnel data too, I think we have recovered quite a lot of speed on the straights.

"So, I'm expecting the speed not to be such an issue as it was.

"We believe our car is certainly more efficient compared to the one we had last year and when I'm saying efficient, again, it's both from the aerodynamic point of view and from the power unit point of view."

In order to reduce costs, teams have been forced to carry over homologated designs from last year and have been restricted in new developments by an FIA-monitored "token" system.

Each team has two tokens to spend on the development of specific areas of the car and Binotto said Ferrari had focused its spend on the rear of the SF21 where new aerodynamic regulations have also required changes to the floor and rear brake ducts.

"We played our tokens on the back of the car," he said, "and I do believe that our car is better than the one of last year.

"Obviously you cannot compare them as well because there is also a change in aero regulations on the floor on the back. But the way I've seen the car developing both at the wind tunnel and at the dyno I believe that we made somehow a significant effort."

However, Binotto played down Ferrari's chances of fighting at the front this year and said a lot of the team's focus would shift to 2022 in preparation for a new set of regulations that will require a complete redesign of the car.

"We need as well to be realistic," he added. "The gap to the best last year was very important, and not something that you can recover in a single winter ... and our focus during 2021 will be developing the 2022 car. That'll be the main target.

"So we will not spend much time on the 2021 car during the season. There is always a balance, it is a choice that we will need to make at some stage, but the 2022 regulations are such a big change that there is at least a minimum quantity of exercise and design and projects that need to be developed. So most of the effort will be there.

"That is why I think again to see how the car is handling at the very start of the season is very important because it is somehow the balance of performance we may see for the rest of the season.

"We know how much we have progressed in the wind tunnel, power, but more than that what will be important is to see the on-track delivery. How really the car will behave on track compared to expectations.

"We've experienced in the past, we are not the only ones, that you may have miss matched from the wind tunnel to the racetrack.

"That will be a key point for all the competitors, because again having change the regulations on the rear of the car, there is a work of correlation that is needed. That will be a key factor for the season."