There’s so much pre-season hype in Formula One that one of the best talking points of the year itself is how every single team but Mercedes chalks up their lack of competition. This time around, it happens to be that Ferrari—F1's oldest still-running team—is claiming itself to be so “young” that they don’t quite know what they’re doing yet.
Ferrari have competed more consistently in F1 than any other team—meaning since the early 1950s. They’ve had, theoretically, more opportunities to improve their craft than anyone else.
Despite that, they’ve been playing second fiddle to Mercedes for the past couple years, even after an off-season of claiming that they might just have the faster car. But, as team boss Mattia Binotto told Motorsport.com, there’s a reason for that:
I don’t think it is a disaster by the time that you are improving as a team. And as I often say, we are a young team, we are learning on a learning phase.
I think that in terms of process and methodology there is still much to learn and I am pretty happy by the time the team is improving. If it is a concept design then it obviously depends what it is, but I think there are things that you may address within a season.
Ferrari’s purported youth is the reason why they’ve developed the wrong car this year, apparently. The entire concept they used was off. Instead of opting for a higher downforce model, Ferrari focused on managing air outwash and improving aerodynamic efficiency. So, they might have speed on straights—but the Ferrari leaves something to be desired when cornering.
There is, however, a sliver of truth to claiming the team is new on the block. Binotto replaced former Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene in January 2019. Driver Charles Leclerc is only in his second F1 season. And, yes, they’ve had a pretty consistent staff turnover this year, too. So, you could kind of say they’re “new.”
Mercedes has certainly made them look new with how sheerly dominant they’ve been over the Italian team this season.
“Young” probably wasn’t the correct word to use when describing the Ferrari team. But it’s preeeetty far down the list of Ferrari’s missteps this season.