Ferrari’s future success will only come with stability
For anyone thinking that following the worst start in Ferrari's Formula 1 history for 11 years that team principal Mattia Binotto would be made the fall guy, think again.
Binotto, who has been with the Scuderia since 1995 and was appointed to his current role in January last year, has the firm support of chairman John Elkann and CEO Louis Camilleri. Over the two years in his role, Camilleri has made sweeping changes, both on the car manufacturing side and with the F1 team. While recognising the abundance of talent in both areas and what he has described as “a work ethic I found quite extraordinary”, there were, as you can appreciate, what the 65-year-old also termed as “imperfections”.
One particular area of 'weakness' spotted by Camilleri was Ferrari's penchant to “work in silos rather than as a team”, the derivation of which refers to when a department within an organisation shares common tasks but procures power and status from its group. With regard to the Scuderia, in particular, there has been a reorganisation of certain departments to ensure there is a more collaborative approach. It is why, despite the acute embarrassment being felt at what Camilleri has highlighted as “a very difficult season, with the performance of the car lacking in several dimensions”, and in the wake of the team's worst two-car finish in Belgium recently, there will be no sackings.
Camilleri, who is also the chairman of tobacco manufacturing giant Philip Morris International, said: “Regretfully in the past, there has been too much pressure and a history of people being let go, and there was somewhat of a revolving door atmosphere. I'm putting a stop to that.
“What we need is stability and focus. I can reassure you that I believe we have the talent and they are working day and night to try to meet our aspirations and those of the millions of fans we have out there who, I can fully understand, are frustrated by this season.
“But if you look at Red Bull's period of winning championships, Mercedes today, other than talent, one of the key things they had was stability, and that's something frankly our team has been lacking.
“I want to ensure that remains in place, despite the unbelievable pressure there is on the team, particularly from the Italian media, who are quite brutal at times, and calling for heads to roll, but that's not the solution.”
It is why Camilleri will not be pulling the trigger and ending Binotto's time at the helm after just 19 months in charge.
“We have a new cycle, with a new team principal, and we've just recently reorganised to give more accountability and responsibility to the key individuals,” added Camilleri. “I think they are working much closer together in terms of all the component parts.
“We've invested more, in terms of we are building a new simulator, we've done a lot more in terms of performance dynamics, we have added human resources, not just financial.
“I have to say I have full and utter confidence in Mattia Binotto and his team. If I didn't, then I wouldn't have selected him for that job. I know the results aren't there to prove what I'm saying but these things take time.”
It is understandable that Camilleri should then highlight what preceded one of the greatest eras in F1 which resulted in Ferrari winning six constructors' titles from 1999-2004, and Michael Schumacher five drivers' championships from 2000-2004.
“If I look back historically, at the era of someone of the calibre of Jean Todt, and Michael, Ross [Brawn], Rory [Byrne] and all those guys, it took them more than six years to get to what they ultimately became – this phenomenal winning team.”
Camilleri insists such faith is necessary in order to provide a stable platform, which in turn, hopefully then lends itself to greater productivity.
“There is a much greater focus,” said Camilleri. “If you're a bit worried about your job then it's hard to focus.
“It's not only important for those working within the team, but also you are able to attract talent. If you have a sort of revolving-door atmosphere, it is hard to do that.”
For the short-term of this season, at least, it is highly likely Ferrari will emerge from it with its worst performance in the constructors' championship since 1981 when it finished fifth. Even in that year it still won two races, which is not on the agenda this campaign.
Heading into 2021, and unlike this year, at least there is no engine freeze. Binotto recently stated after the race in Spa that progress was being made on the dyno, so there is hope next year will not be as bad as the current one.
It is 2022, though, where Ferrari's ambitions lie, relying heavily on making progress under significantly revised regulations.
“I would hope that by 2021 we can certainly improve on this season,” expressed Camilleri. “2022 is when the new regs come into play, and as you know, every time there has been a huge revolution in terms of the technical framework, it gives an opportunity for teams to be one up on the others. That's our hope.
“I think we have the talent, we certainly have the work ethic and the determination to get there. I'm confident we will certainly be up there battling, without in any way saying the competition is not strong.
“Mercedes is incredibly strong, and Red Bull has shown it is very strong, too, so the challenge is up there, but I think we can meet it.”
If not, it is fair to suggest heads will likely start rolling again.