Ferrari say they lost the F1 2019 battle to Mercedes before the season even began after designing a car which was “not good enough”.
Although Ferrari turned heads in pre-season testing with their pace, their season quickly unravelled after a crushing opener in Australia and the famous Italian team didn’t secure a victory until after the summer break, by which point their championship optimism had long been a distant memory.
Ferrari’s issue wasn’t that they couldn’t compete with Mercedes in terms of engine power or in qualifying – they were by far the quickest on the straights in 2019 and finished with nine poles to Merc’s 10 – but that their SF90’s aerodynamic package was no match for their rivals in the corners.
Their season was also littered with team and driver mistakes, but Mattia Binotto was in no doubt when asked what the key moment was in the Scuderia’s demise.
“I think we lost this last year when designing that car,” the Ferrari team boss said.
“We were not competitive at the start of the season and there are reasons for it, so I think the car project was not good enough to start with.
“Our development rate, and generally speaking our design, was not as good as our competitors.”
Mercedes started the season with eight consecutive victories, while even Red Bull claimed two wins before Charles Leclerc or Sebastian Vettel stood on the top step of the podium for Ferrari.
They did make progress in the second half of the campaign and seemed to make a breakthrough with their package when taking a one-two in Singapore, a high-downforce track which features more low-speed corners than any other on the calendar.
“It has certainly been an intense season with a lot to do,” Binotto, new in his role for 2019, added.
“We have restructured and reorganised the team, but in the meantime we have always tried to address and improve the car and I think we did this through the season – at least to some level.”
That Singapore win, however, was their last of the season, with Binotto admitting the team “lost performance” in comparison to Mercedes and Red Bull at the end of 2019.
Ferrari, without a title in over a decade, are now facing a crunch winter as they ponder their car design for 2020 – when the car regulations are largely unchanged.