(Reuters) – Misfiring Ferrari have complete confidence in team boss Mattia Binotto but cannot expect to return to winning ways in Formula One before 2022, company chairman John Elkann said on Tuesday.
The team are Formula One’s oldest and most successful but the current car is too slow and they are fifth overall after the season’s first three races.
“The reality is that our car is not competitive. You’ve seen it on the track and you’ll see it again,” Elkann said in an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Today we are laying the foundations to be competitive and get back to winning when the rules change in 2022. I am sure of this,” he added.
Ferrari were runners-up last season but Mercedes have won an unprecedented six successive drivers’ and constructors’ titles and are favourites to make it seven this year after a dominant start.
Sweeping technical and sporting rule changes that were due to come in next year have been postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with teams continuing to use this year’s cars next year.
Elkann said the 2020 car had structural weaknesses that had been around for some time in aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics, and had lost engine power.
Elkann asked ‘suffering’ fans to be patient, recalling that Ferrari’s golden era with seven times world champion Michael Schumacher only came after a long ‘fast’.
Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996 and had to wait until 2000 for his first title with them, the third of his career, to end a 21-year drought for the Maranello-based team.
Ferrari, who last won a title in 2008, have had four principals in six seasons but Elkann said Binotto was fully supported.
“Complete confidence,” he declared. “Also because Mattia Binotto, who has been at the helm for a year, has all the competencies and characteristics to start off a new winning cycle.
“He was at Ferrari with (former team boss Jean) Todt and Schumi, he knows how to win and from next year he will be working with two young drivers as ambitious as us.”
Asked whether Ferrari were right not to renew the contract of four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is leaving at the end of this year, Elkann said it was harder to rebuild with those who had already won than those yet to succeed.
Ferrari have Monegasque Charles Leclerc on a long-term contract with Spaniard Carlos Sainz joining from McLaren next year.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge)