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Ferrari’s Binotto targets return to top three after dire 2020

Ferrari Formula One boss Mattia Binotto says he still enjoys the full support of his superiors after the team’s worst season in 40 years and is targeting a return to the top three next year.

The sport’s oldest and most successful team finished sixth overall in the 2020 constructors’ championship, without a race win.

Chief executive Louis Camilleri, a strong supporter of Binotto, announced his surprise retirement last week with chairman John Elkann taking over on an interim basis.

Binotto told reporters on Friday, in a video call replacing the traditional pre-Christmas media lunch at Maranello due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that he had “the full trust and the full support” of Elkann and vice-president Piero Ferrari.

“There are no changes in our plans, no changes in what is our future,” he said when asked how Camilleri’s departure might affect the team.

He recognised, however, that his job could be at risk without evident progress.

“I know that my time is not infinite, certainly,” he added. “I am pretty aware of the fact that…as a team we need to do well and myself as well as principal to do well in the next seasons.”

Binotto said Ferrari could hope for a much better 2021, even if the gap to champions Mercedes was still too great.

“I’m pretty sure that this year will make us stronger for the future,” he said.

“Third is not impossible, I think that should be our minimum objective for next season.”

Binotto said that would not be easy but Ferrari had made progress on a new engine which was running well on the test bed and showing significant improvement.

“I think we will be back to being competitive as a power unit; we will not be the lowest in the field,” he said.

Ferrari have a new driver line-up next year, with Carlos Sainz joining from McLaren alongside Monegasque Charles Leclerc while four times world champion Sebastian Vettel has left.

Sainz spent his first day in Ferrari red at the factory on Friday, in what Binotto said was more of a tourist tour before the real work starts in the New Year.

“It is a special day for me and one I will probably never forget,” said the Spaniard.

The 2021 car will be named the SF21, Binotto said. This year’s was the SF1000, in homage to the team’s 1,000th world championship grand prix this year.

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