Following its disastrous 2020 campaign, Ferrari says it has halved its lap time deficit to the quickest teams in Formula 1.

The team slumped to its worst performance for 40 years last season, taking sixth in the championship. However it has begun 2021 in much better shape, as team principal Mattia Binotto explained.

“If we take the average of the entire [2020] season, we were 1.4 seconds off the pole,” said Binotto. “Today we are at 0.7.”

Ferrari were over a second slower than the quickest lap time at the majority of races last year, and as much as two seconds away at some venues. They have taken two pole positions this year, but registered their least competitive performance last time out in Hungary.

Binotto admits their average deficit of seven-tenths of a second to Red Bull and Mercedes this year “is still a distance, it’s not negligible and we are fully aware of it.”

“But still, I think we halved the gap to the best,” he continued. “We halved to gap to the best. That is encouraging because the direction is the right one.”

Ferrari will bring a power unit upgrade later this season aimed at further reducing that deficit. But Binotto says the team has gains to find in other areas as well.

“That 0.7 is not only coming from one single area. It’s a sum of various areas, certainly aerodynamics, power unit, overall systems on the car.

“That is another point which is important: I don’t think we are lacking only one area. Lacking only on one area would be even worse because then it means that you need to recover a lot in a single area, which can be more difficult.”

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The team “strive to improve in all the areas”, said Binotto, who explained how Ferrari has also made significant progress with the competitiveness of its pit stops.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021
Leclerc put Ferrari back on pole position in Monaco

“I always consider that a good pit stop is below three seconds, what we call ‘to green’, so as well the driver leaving the pit [box]. It may seem a high number, three, but I always say that in a strategy it’s important to be consistent – not only fast, but consistent – because what’s destroying a race is sometimes you’ve got a problem and your stop may last 4.5, five seconds or six. That are the types of situation which are really difficult.

“If we look at the three seconds, how many times we’ve been below three seconds in 2021 so far, 84%, last year 48. So here again, it’s showing that in terms of the team, pit crew, mechanics, in terms of pit stops, we have certainly improved our pit stop time and our pit stop quality.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2021
Ferrari’s pit stops have got much quicker, says Binotto

“Looking at below three seconds, so as well under pressure et cetera, we were P8 in terms of classification so there were seven teams doing better to us, today we are P2 so there is only one team that has done better than us in terms of percentage below the three seconds. So that are the numbers showing that as a team, as a car, overall, there are certainly improvements in 2021 compared to 2020 and the direction is encouraging.”

Ferrari’s improved performance has helped it rise to joint third with McLaren in the constructors’ championship. Binotto said this shows the substantial progress it has made.

“We have achieved so far in the first 11 races 163 points, it was 80 points last year, up to the same number of races, so it plus 83 points, more than double from the same number of races.

“Last year we completed the season with 131 points. So we’ve got more points after the entire season last year. That certainly is showing big improvement.”

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