Mattia Binotto has admitted Ferrari are missing the drive to succeed injected into the team by Michael Schumacher during their golden era.
Ferrari dominated Formula 1 during the first half-decade of this century, capturing six consecutive Constructors’ titles from 1999-2004 while Schumacher was the Drivers’ champion in the last five of those years.
They completed the double again in 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen and retained the Constructors’ crown the year after, but this season is set to be the 14th in a row without a title going to the Scuderia.
It all looked like being so different when Charles Leclerc won two of this campaign’s first three races and finished a close second in the other, but that hope has unravelled with Ferrari bedevilled by a series of mistakes and reliability problems.
Of course, back at the turn of the millennium, the Italian giants had one of the all-time greats in Schumacher pushing the team on – and although Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are among the leading F1 stars of today, they have a long way to go before they can be mentioned in the same breath as the seven-time former World Champion.
Asked what is missing in the quest to rise to the top, team principal Binotto, quoted by the Italian edition of Motorsport.com, said: “That winning mentality that was there in the Schumacher era and which pushed you to do better after every victory.”
After completing his studies, Binotto joined Ferrari in the engine department just before Schumacher had moved from Benetton, with whom he had won back-to-back Drivers’ championships.
The 52-year-old remembers the maiden victory for both he and Schumacher at Ferrari, in the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix.
“It was also my first win and when I heard the anthem I realised what it means to be Ferrari, but then we started winning championships in 1999 and 2000,” said Binotto.
The Swiss-born Ferrari boss, who has worked at Maranello for 27 years, has experienced both the good and bad times and is hoping to complete the journey back to the F1 summit following the depths of 2020.
“It is no longer enough to do your homework well – to win, you have to keep progressing and improving, and to do that we have to give 120% if not 130%,” said Binotto.
“We come from very difficult seasons, from sixth place in the 2020 Constructors’ championship. These were years that marked us because we suffered pressure and criticism, and in a way they shaped us.
“We promised we would be competitive again and we have kept that promise, but what I want to say is that between having a performing car and drivers and the ability to consolidate the ability to materialise every situation, there is still a step to go.”