A lacklustre outing at pre-season testing has prompted Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto to openly ponder the team’s commitment to the 2020 Formula 1 season, with a massive rules shake-up planned for the 2021 season.
Team will need to find a delicate balance between improving their car for this season, or choosing to sink more resources into a 2021 campaign which looks set to create a more level playing field between the sport’s 10 teams.
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Ferrari have admitted they are playing catch-up with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix less than two weeks away.
In a sport where being half a second behind your rivals can feel like an eternity, Binotto said Ferrari had big questions to ask themselves if they couldn’t get up to speed within the first few races of the season.
"How much will the 2020 catch up affect the 2021 [project]? - that's certainly a good point," Binotto told motorsport publication Autosport after pre-season testing.
"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.”
Despite the concern, Binotto was also quick to point out that the season had not yet begun, and that a sub-optimal testing period would not lead to Ferrari making any rash decisions.
Ferrari rivals Mercedes warn of regulatory change
Ferrari’s biggest rival, Mercedes, emerged from pre-season testing once again as the heavy favourite for the constructors championship, while lead driver Lewis Hamilton is again tipped to win the driver’s championship.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said finding the balance between improving the 2020 car and developing the 2021 entry was a fine one.
"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,” Wolff said.
"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."