Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto has confirmed he plans to skip “some races” during the 2021 Formula 1 season in order to focus on the development of the team’s 2022 car.

Team principal Binotto was absent from two race weekends last year in Turkey and Bahrain as he elected to hand control of the trackside leadership to racing director Laurent Mekies while he remained in Maranello to oversee the production of the SF21 for 2021. Mekies also took charge of Ferrari when Binotto missed the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP with an illness that was not related to COVID-19.

Speaking at Ferrari’s season launch event, Binotto revealed that he does not intend to attend all of the 23 rounds on the 2021 F1 calendar and will once again hand over the reins to Mekies at certain events amid a second technical reorganisation in just over six months off the back of the Italian outfit’s worst season since 1980.

“Last year I missed some races as in the end, there is an entire company to manage, it’s not only the race weekend,” said Binotto. “There is a lot of things going on back at Maranello, a lot of people to manage and coordinate.

“This year will be hopefully a 23-race championship. It will be very long and very intense in the second half. There is quite a big challenge in 2022 as well to face, so my intention will again be to not be part of all the races during the 2021 season.

“Certainly I will be part of the start of the season itself, that will be important to assess our performance at the start and make sure everything is working well on the race track. At some stage, I will start missing some races, and be back at Maranello concentrated on 2022.

“Obviously when I’m back at Maranello, we have our [virtual] garage, so I will be always in direct contact with the race track. But as well we have our racing director on track, Laurent Mekies.

"He has a lot of experience with us and he proved last year of being capable of leading the entire team over the race weekend. So I’m comfortable with the choice and comfortable not being at the race track sometimes.”

While Ferrari is confident it has addressed the main weakness of its 2020 car and no longer believes it will carry a significant straightline speed deficit this year, Binotto has stressed that the team cannot expect to fully recover the gap to rivals Mercedes and Red Bull in just one season.

As a result, Ferrari’s strategy for the upcoming campaign will be to switch focus early to the development of its 2022 car in a bid to take advantage of the sweeping overhaul to the regulations.

“Our focus during 2021 will be developing the 2022 car,” Binotto explained. “That will be the main target, so we will not spend much time on the 2021 [car] during the season.

“There is always a balance, it’s a choice that we need to make at some stage, but 2022 is 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 in 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.”

 

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