Imagine being the Ferrari Formula One team for a second. As the most storied, long-lasting team in the sport, you’ve got it pretty good. You’ve had decades on your competition to sort out your problems, and the very rules of the sport are designed around giving you a leg up. Except for the fact that you haven’t won a championship since 2008. What could be the problem? Certainly not your finely-built machines! No—it has to be F1's politics.
Yeah. That’s actually the direction Ferrari is going. After a whole-ass season of everything going wrong car-wise that could go wrong, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is now claiming that, no, it is not the team that has any fundamental flaws. No, no. It’s politics in general!
Here’s a section of Binotto’s quote, from Motorsport.com:
“I think that it was maybe showing one of our weaknesses of the season,” he said. “We are not good enough in polemics, and there are people who are stronger than us - even in using the media to put pressure on.
“So it is something that we need to understand how to do better, and to better act in the future, because that’s part of the overall balance of a season.”
When asked if Binotto thought Ferrari had managed to find some sort of upper-hand midway through the 2019 season, when the team’s engine development flourished, Binotto maintained that any reactions from other teams were combative in nature. “For me that is more polemics, finger pointing,” he argued. “Which in the end is about putting pressure or extra activity, because you need to reply to the interviews or reply to whatever has been questioned.”
Binotto then went on to claim that, because Ferrari is a “young team”(how he figured that is the eighth wonder of the world), other teams speaking about Ferrari to the media is, essentially, a political tactic designed to... I don’t know. Distract Ferrari from the all-consuming task of building a race car? Make them feel sad and therefore incapable of strategizing effectively with one another?
Let us also not forget that Ferrari is, arguably, one of the most political F1 teams on the grid. When Kimi Raikkonen left Ferrari for Alfa Romeo, he was glad to leave behind all the “bullshit” politics. Ferrari gets $100 million more than any other team on the grid just for showing up. There’s also the fact that The Powers That Be at Ferrari frequently like to pull strings and issue team orders to achieve its desired results. There’s a whole Reddit thread dedicated to remembering the intra-team politics that saw great drivers like Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher pushed out.
Having to answer a few extra media questions seems pretty politically tame in comparison to, y’know, decided that you want Sebastian Vettel to win this race way more than leader Charles Leclerc. But, hey—no one point any fingers at Ferrari!