There’s a quiet confidence at Ferrari. The Scuderia has wiped the slate clean following a disastrous 2018 campaign marred by errors on both sides of the pit wall.
And while news in January, of team principal Maurizio Arrivabene’s departure, seemed like another setback…
…with technical director, and Ferrari lifer, Mattia Binotto having to pick up the slack to perform two highly demanding 24/7 roles. The reality is that the Prancing Horse has retained its gallop into 2019.
SOUNDBITE (English) MATTIA BINOTTO,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, FERRARI:
“Being myself in a new role of team principal and technical director, certainly it’s a new challenge for myself. But I feel [that] it has an interesting challenge, but a challenge for the entire team. I think it’s my role is one role but each single person in Ferrari knows exactly what they have to do. And I think that their role is as key as mine.”
And, it’s a sentiment echoed by four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who played down effects felt by the changes.
SOUNDBITE (English) SEBASTIAN VETTEL,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“I think we are still growing as a team, and hopefully we can use the momentum and make sure we do the final step in order to be even more competitive, it won't be a problem because I know them, I am sure, and I am looking forward to it."
After week one’s test, Charles Leclerc and Vettel were eighth and ninth fastest on the C3 tyre, two steps harder than the C5. But tyre-corrected it’s said to have half a second in hand.
Importantly, the Scuderia was second in terms of distance covered, a good omen for bulletproof reliability come the start of the season.
It also covered more distance than any other power unit manufacturer with 1489 laps. Mercedes a distant second on 1046, Renault on 957 and Honda the least.
And while this week’s second test will provide a more accurate picture of 2019 form - there’s no doubt it’s a positive start to a milestone year for Ferrari’s famous Gestione Sportiva, the racing division celebrating its 90th anniversary.
The Scuderia was founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929, initially to build engines for Alfa Romeo as he began plans to transition from the track, to the garage, after the death of his fellow driver and friend Antonio Ascari in the 1925 French Grand Prix.
The occasion set to be marked at the forthcoming Australian Grand Prix, along with a number of others… including the 70th anniversary of the F1 World Championship.
SOUNDBITE (English) ANDREW WESTACOTT,
CEO, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX CORPORATION:
“It’s the 60th anniversary since Sir Jack Brabham’s first world championship, and there will be a celebration of Sir Jack’s contribution. It’s the 50th anniversary since Sir Jackie Stewart won his first world championship in 1969, so between Brabham, between Formula 1, between the heritage of Ferrari, and Sir Jackie Stewart, there’s always plenty to celebrate.”
And at Albert Park, we’ll see just how much support Ferrari will provide to Vettel, with 21-year-old Monégasque Charles Leclerc now alongside, and many predicting a cutthroat fight.
SOUNDBITE (English) NICO ROSBERG,
2016 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"Is he going to go with respect or is he just going to be flat out like Verstappen style. It’s going to be great, can't wait - and I think if Sebastian does a season like last year, I think Leclerc will end up in front of him at the end of the year, so he needs to nail it this year Sebastian does."
It’s an intra-team battle that the Italian superbrand cannot afford to lose control of if it wants to claim its first world title for more than 10 years. The pressure grows ever more intense at Ferrari.