RACE DEBRIEF

    After Ferrari’s worst season since 1980 last year, Team Principal Mattia Binotto sounded a stern note as the Scuderia launched their 2021 campaign, underlining that he didn’t expect to see a second consecutive year of struggle from F1’s most iconic team.

    Ferrari’s online ‘Team Launch’ on Friday saw the squad present their refreshed line-up of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz – the Spaniard having been drafted in to replace Sebastian Vettel for 2021 – along with Binotto himself.

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    And asked about his expectations for the season ahead – after a 2020 that saw Ferrari score just 131 points compared to the 504 claimed in 2019, as they limped to sixth in the constructors' championship – Binotto replied: “Certainly last year was a big, big disappointment. We know that we cannot repeat such a bad result; we know that we need somehow to do better in 2021.

    WATCH: Ferrari 2021 team launch

    “That is what I'm expecting,” he added, “so I think it's really a matter of mentality: team mentality, drivers' mentality, and as Team Principal, no doubt I'm fully aware of the responsibility I've got, being part of such a team. I feel… not pressure, but I feel the responsibility, as well the pride, and I know that, as I said, initially we simply need to do better, and that's part of my first responsibility.”

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    Ferrari’s 2021 car, the SF21, will be launched on March 10, two days before the start of pre-season testing, with the car due to feature an all-new power unit that will also see service in the Alfa Romeo C41 and Haas VF-21 this year.

    But despite the creation of the new unit – which Binotto has previously said was showing promising figures on Maranello’s engine test benches – Binotto distanced himself from the notion that Ferrari could return to winning ways in 2021, with their last victory having come at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel.

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    Ferrari's new line-up of Leclerc and Sainz

    “What I think will [help us recover in 2021] is our will to win,” said Binotto. “I'm not saying that we will win – I think that we need to be realistic. There are cars that have been very, very strong last year, and with the car [development] being partially frozen, they will be certainly very strong again in 2021.

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    “But I think ‘will to win’ is our commitment, our intention, our focus, being aware that each single detail counts, and I think determination will be again important, and [making] progress.”

    The new Ferrari SF21 will hit the track at the Bahrain International Circuit for pre-season testing on March 12-14, with Sainz and Leclerc then set to go head to head with the rest of the F1 field when the season commences at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.