The red team’s muzzled performance won’t improve anytime soon, says Ferrari boss. Picture: REUTERS
The red team’s muzzled performance won’t improve anytime soon, says Ferrari boss. Picture: REUTERS

Ferrari chair John Elkann has bad news for fans of the Italian Formula One team: the red cars won’t be competitive before 2022.

After hoping to challenge Mercedes’ long-standing dominance this year, Ferrari suffered a rude awakening in the season’s first three races by not only being outpaced by Mercedes, but sliding down into the midfield behind teams like Red Bull and Racing Point.

The team has taken the wrong direction with its aerodynamic design and a loss in power, and Elkann has not only thrown in the towel in this year’s championship but said next year will also be a lean year for F1’s most storied team.

He told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that with the current cars largely set to carry over to next year, the focus now is to make gains when the rules change for 2022 — while adding he has “total trust” in Team Principal Mattia Binotto despite its tough start to 2020.

"Today we are laying the foundations for being competitive and returning to winning when the rules change in 2022,” said Elkann. “I am convinced of it.

“Mattia Binotto, who has taken the helm of the Scuderia for a year, has all the skills and characteristics to start a new winning cycle. He was in Ferrari with [Jean] Todt and [Michael] Schumacher. He knows how to win and from next year he will work with two drivers who are young and ambitious like us."

Elkann said Ferrari’s current challenge was similar to what it faced in the 1990s after a long period in the doldrums.

"A long path awaits us," he said. "When Todt started that historic cycle (of five consecutive titles) in 2000, we came from a fast that lasted for more than 20 years, from 1979."

Ferrari are now fifth in the constructors’ championship, nearly 100 points behind leaders Mercedes — winners of all three races so far.

Elkann said he was aware of the “structural weaknesses of their car with which we have been living for a decade”.

He added: "We have had a series of structural weaknesses that have existed for some time in the aerodynamics and dynamics of the vehicle. We have also lost in engine power. The reality is that our car is not competitive. You saw it on the track and you will see it again."

Charles Leclerc scored a rather fortunate second place in the season-opening Austrian GP on July 5 while teammate Sebastian Vettel finished tenth after a collision. Ferrari failed to score when its two drivers embarrassingly crashed into each other at the start of the Steiermark GP at the same circuit a week later.

There was some reprieve for the team in Hungary a fortnight ago when both cars qualified on the third row. However, their race pace was slow with Leclerc finishing 11th and outside the points while Vettel was sixth — with both drivers lapped by race winner Lewis Hamilton in the dominant Mercedes.

After a weekend off, Formula 1 is back with another triple-header, starting with this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

 

Rossi claims a podium while Binder crashes out

An old Italian war horse raced to glory and a South African rookie faltered at last weekend’s Andalucia MotoGP in Spain, the second round of the delayed 2020 championship.

Race winner Quartararo bumps fists with third-placed Rossi on the Jerez MotoGP podium. Picture: REUTERS
Race winner Quartararo bumps fists with third-placed Rossi on the Jerez MotoGP podium. Picture: REUTERS

Valentino Rossi clinched third place on his Yamaha, the 199th podium of the 41-year-old legend’s premier class career and first since the Grand Prix of the Americas last year. The Italian’s performance almost overshadowed the victory of Fabio Quartararo, who led from start to finish in the scorching heat of Jerez ahead of Rossi’s teammate Maverick Vinales.

Frenchman Quartararo (21) also won the season-opening Spanish Grand Prix the weekend before, setting himself up as a title contender with world champion Marc Marquez failing to score in both races.

"That one was tough," Quartararo said after a race in which eight riders crashed or retired due to technical problems.

"What an amazing feeling, it feels so good to make back-to-back wins.”

The victory moved Quartararo to 50 points in the world championship standings, 10 points ahead of Vinales.

Defending champion Marquez of Repsol Honda didn’t take part as he was recovering from surgery on a broken arm sustained in the season-opening race.

South African rookie Brad Binder, who placed 13th and in the points in July 19’s season-opener, was one of the many riders who crashed out of last weekend’s high-attrition race held at the same circuit. Binder and fellow KTM rider Miguel Oliviera collided at the start of the race, leading to Oliviera's retirement while the South African was able to rejoin in last place. However, after making up a number of places Binder pushed too hard and crashed out.

"First I need to say sorry to @migueloliveira44 for hitting him in turn 1 today. I’m sorry to everyone @redbullktmtech3 for destroying their race and ended what would have been a good weekend," said Binder on his Facebook page afterwards.

"After getting back on track I tried my best to catch up as much as possible and crashed. Thank you to my team for the huge effort @KTM factoryracing. I’ve learnt a lot these last two weeks. You live and you learn. Taking the positives home with me and we will try again in Brno. Thanks for all the support."

The next race is in the Czech Republic on August 9.

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