RACING

The change Ferrari needs is not an F1 trip

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Formula 1 team Ferrari’s insistence that it doesn’t need to make any changes despite its wasted streak of Grand Prix wins in the first half of 2022 seems misguided at best.

But the change required doesn’t have to be layoffs or major staff reshuffles.

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Despite understandable criticism of a situation in which Ferrari’s main driver Charles Leclerc went from a 46-point lead over main rival Max Verstappen after just three races to an 80-point deficit at the summer break, there is still has great respect among The Race riders. F1 experts for how Mattia Binotto changed the culture at Ferrari.

On a recent episode of The Race F1 podcast, Mark Hughes, Scott Mitchell and Edd Straw all urged Ferrari to stick with its current employees and find better ways to work, rather than revert to bad habits of the past.

“Sacking the guy in charge is what Ferrari used to do, except in the days of Ross Brawn/Jean Todt, and that led to a streak of the team falling further and further back, and the whole place operating under a culture of fear,” Hugues said.

“What Binotto has done is change that. He may not yet have managed to combine that with taking charge, accepting and eradicating weaknesses without scaring the people there.

“He doesn’t want this culture of fear and he seems to have got rid of it very successfully.

“He also oversaw the most technically impressive Ferrari for many, many years.

“So I think he’s much more right than wrong.

“But it’s frustrating for Ferrari fans if you keep seeing the same things go wrong over and over again, when it’s for the same reason.

“If you can combine what Binotto brought with a bit more of the culture that we see in teams that have been the best teams for a long time, like Mercedes and Red Bull, in terms of how you go about eradicating weaknesses , so I think it will be an absolutely great team.

“Firing the man responsible because things went wrong would be absolutely the wrong way to think.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Race Day Silverstone England

The current public approach of appearing to deny that problems exist is, in the long run, the wrong way to protect team personnel, according to Straw.

“What concerns me is that even though Binotto shouldn’t be 100% the scapegoat of people, if there is a weakness and a problem, at least accept it,” he said. .

“You see Toto Wolff doing that, he’ll ‘blame the problem’, as he likes to say, not the person.

“But Binotto seems to be pushing his limits and saying ‘no, we did everything perfectly’. Sorry, you didn’t.

“Binotto will know there are problems, and it worries me a bit when the message that goes to everyone is ‘all decisions were good’.

“OK, if your decisions and reasoning were correct based on the information you had, then 1) how do you acquire that information? and 2) are you looking at the correct information?

“It’s been the same old story so many times this year and they have to deal with it because they’ve built a car which is very, very fast and they have to be in the championship fight properly with it and really they’ I’m barely, barely hooked to the current rhythm.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Race Day Budapest, Hungary

Mitchell agreed Ferrari’s methodology around his data may well be the problem that has led to race-day sellouts, such as the recent Hungarian Grand Prix defeat in which he qualified second and third with Verstappen. starting only 10th, but couldn’t even get a podium as Verstappen won.

“What Ferrari has now is a situation where they can get into a position to almost win a Grand Prix and then make small but crucial mistakes in key phases most of the time,” Mitchell said.

“Ideally what you want to do is learn from those situations, have the same people in place and then make better decisions.

“We’ve heard both Mercedes and Red Bull be incredibly positive and rave about the job their strategists have done through the tough times in Hungary and keeping their cool under pressure was a big part of that.

“But Binotto is basically saying Ferrari doesn’t need to change, it just needs to learn.

“The problem is that he had plenty of opportunities to learn.

“It’s not a 2022 problem, it’s deeper than that. There are quite a few people out there who were still making those mistakes before.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Budapest, Hungary

“So if you’re not changing people, you have to try to look at processes. How far does Ferrari go in its data? What data does it use? And how does it weight the different data sources?

“I would put a lot more emphasis on what I see happening in front of me in a race. And then the secondary level is what was learned from Friday and Saturday training.

“And then the third thing is something that you basically gave up on race day, and that’s your story, the ‘oh, we’ve already done that’. That sometimes comes into play strategically as to when to roll the dice , knowing for example that two years ago you managed to run the mids for 35 laps or something on a track, that’s where the story comes back and can inform a decision now.

“But it’s going well, usually we like to have a position on the track. Let’s do everything we can to get the track position. Oh, we’ve run out of psychics, what do we do? Put the hard. Why? I don’t know, let’s just do it’…it doesn’t sound much more refined as a thought process than that.

Ferrari’s stance on its issues may of course be very different in the privacy of Maranello.

But the evidence on the right track is that an approach based on the absolutely laudable theory of eliminating a culture of fear must be implemented differently.

“It’s almost as if he’s gone so far in overcorrecting Ferrari’s infamous blame culture and finger pointing culture that he’s gotten to the point where he can’t recognize the problems.” , concluded Mitchell.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Race Day Budapest, Hungary

“You can identify the issues, but don’t throw an individual or a department under the bus.

“I think Binotto has done a good job of turning this place into a team that cares for the individual and thinks as a collective. I really think there’s been some positive progress there since he took over. took the lead of the team.

“It just goes to show that what people think of a ‘blameless’ culture and what it actually is and how you implement it are very different. It’s subtle but they are different.

Motor Racing Formula 1 World Championship French Grand Prix Race Day Paul Ricard, France

“It’s not that you can’t say there are problems or admit that things weren’t done the way they could have been. That’s how we learn, it’s constructive self-criticism.

“Maybe it’s completely different within the team and they’re great internally.

“But I feel like if they were, they wouldn’t keep making the same mistakes.”

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