Two victories in three Grand Prix, a thirty-point advantage for its star driver Charles Leclerc and almost forty in the constructors’ standings: Ferrari has returned very well at the start of the 2022 season. In Imola, at the Enzo and Dino circuit Ferrari, the Escuderia hopes to reward “at home” its many fans, who have remained loyal despite the difficult years.
Meeting on the morning of Friday 22 April before the free practice sessions, the head of the transalpine team, the Italian-Swiss Mattia Binotto, analyzes, without overconfidence, the first results – excellent – of Ferrari.
What inspires you this return to the top of the Ferraris, dominant since the beginning of the season?
First of all, you have to be careful. Dominatrixes is not the right word. We have reversed the trend. We manage to fight for good races and try to win some. For the team, after two years of criticism and difficulties, it is a relief and above all a great joy to finally be able to prove to oneself that he is capable of working well. Personally, I’m also happy for the team that has always stayed together, that has always tried to do well to represent Ferrari.
When you arrived, you showed great confidence in your troops and in your plan. Why was it essential to instill this mood?
I’ve always tried to give the team confidence, so that it works calmly. For my part, I was convinced of it in Maranello [siège de l’usine Ferrari], there was everything to do well. But I knew that in order to get there, you had to work on a schedule.
When we talk about programming, it’s really about patience. This patience is not necessarily easy to manage, especially in Italy. For Ferrari, the pressure is still there. But if we look at our history, there are many times when Ferrari did not win. It is part of the cycles.
Ferrari’s return seems to be linked to various factors such as new regulations (aerodynamics, limited budgets), the fact that Red Bull and Mercedes were fighting for the title until the end of the season, that you benefit from more wind tunnel testing, etc. . How do you explain it?
Many factors came into play. First there is patience and programming. Please try to analyze our weaknesses in terms of behavior, methodology, tools and skills in Maranello, in order to invest in them and improve them. Therefore, attention must be paid to detail. We have done this systematically for the last two years.
Also, it’s true, we had a little more time than the others in the wind tunnel last year. This advantage is estimated at one tenth [de seconde] per turn. It’s important, but it’s not what made the difference. The other teams have been very focused in the 2021 season but they are also improving as a team. We were under criticism; we focused on ourselves and lifted the challenge.
Starting from a blank page thanks to the new regulations was an opportunity not to be missed …
The discontinuity of the rules was a very important element. We knew it. No one retains the advantage of the previous year’s car; others found it harder to catch up. The 2022 season was an important meeting, we prepared thinking about our car but also about the team, our weaknesses and how to move forward.
In Barcelona, during the winter tests in February, Ferrari gathered all the praise. When did you realize you were on the right track?
It is still too early to judge. I’ve said since the beginning of the season that we should wait four or five races to be able to judge definitively.
We are fourth in Imola this weekend …
Yes, we are getting there. With this race and the one in Miami [le 8 mai], we will have a clearer picture of the forces involved. This regulation is so new that there can be basic breakdowns in cars that are easily corrected. Our competitors could reach the next races with modifications that would make them as strong as us.
That said, in Barcelona, we realized that the car behaved as we had thought, designed, projected and developed it in our test benches, in a simulator or in a wind tunnel. There was a good correlation with the project, it means that the car is in good health. This is what we saw the first day in Barcelona.
If Red Bull regains Mercedes ’reliability and performance, it would allow for an incredible three-way title fight. Isn’t that the goal of this reform?
I am convinced that this regulation will achieve its objectives. If it’s not this year, it will be next year. More than one team will be able to fight for results. If Ferrari can be part of this competition and win, it would be an honor.
Imola is special to you. It is one of the cities of Ferrari. Do you feel the joy and pride in your fans?
It’s not just the Ferrari city, it’s mostly the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit. For us, it is a very important Grand Prix, we feel a sense of responsibility. We also feel the pride and support of our fans that motivates us.
How did you get involved with Charles Leclerc despite the difficult seasons? What speech did you give him?
I told him that Ferrari will become a world champion if he participates, as a member of the team, in its development. He is not a privileged spectator, he is a key person in future successes. We had to make him responsible for what we wanted to be. He understood the project and spared no effort to improve.