Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has confessed that the team could turn attention and resources to developing their car for the 2021 F1 season if, after a few races in 2020, they see that the performance gap to Mercedes is insurmountable.
In testing in Barcelona, Valtteri Bottas set the fastest lap time, with Charles Leclerc putting Ferrari’s fastest time in at six-tenths slower than the Finn.
It led to Mercedes speculating that Ferrari were holding back in their power, but Binotto said in Barcelona that they were focusing more on reliability than pace this time around, having displayed extreme pace in testing last year.
With Mercedes appearing to be the dominant force heading into 2020 again, Ferrari could actually write the year off to prepare for 2021 when extensive regulation changes will be implemented.
“How much will the 2020 catch-up affect the 2021 [project]? – that’s certainly a good point,” he said to Motorsport.com.
“I think it’s a compromise that we need to find out. I think we are very early in the season, and you cannot compromise the entire season itself.
“So at the start of the season, we certainly keep pushing on 2020 as much as we can, because it’s time for us to understand the car and the weaknesses. And hopefully, it is things that we can address as soon as possible.
“If I see after a few races, and we will still understand that the gap is too big, then maybe it’s a considerations that we can take into account.
“But it’s early stage right now. I think it’s just few days of testing. I think there are things that we can address on the car, hopefully quite soon. So at the moment, we should keep our plan as it was for 2020/2021.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted that every team, no matter where they are on the grid in 2020, will need to switch focus to 2021 at some point in the upcoming campaign.
“There’s such a massive regulatory change for 2021, that balancing your allocation of resource will be crucial in terms of how much of your resource you’re switching into the 2021 car,” the Silver Arrows team principal explained.
“Obviously, the learning and development slope is much steeper at the beginning. So if you get it wrong and you’re months behind, you might be half a second behind.
“And this is a challenge which we have embraced in the past through two regulatory changes, and we love that one.”
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