Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says top three in the constructors’ championship is his minimum objective for 2021 with an improved car.

A strong 2019 was followed by a dismal season for Ferrari as power unit technical directives pegged the Scuderia back significantly. An uncompetitive car was only good enough for sixth in the constructors’ championship, with the highlights being two podiums for Charles Leclerc and one for the departing Sebastian Vettel. Despite falling so far over the past 12 months, Binotto says he is expecting an instant response next year when Carlos Sainz — who had his first day at Maranello on Friday — will partner Leclerc.

“This team has been capable of finishing second in the past five years except one third, so I think that third is not fully impossible,” Binotto said. “And I think that should at least be our minimum objective for next season.

“Still, I think that finishing third will not be an easy job. Finishing third will be difficult because there are teams like Racing Point who I am sure will be very strong next year — free tokens, which is a competitive advantage. I think McLaren will be very strong again — they got an upgrade on the power unit, so overall I think it will be a difficult achievement but still I believe that as a team as a minimum objective we should try to achieve it.”

Binotto concedes this season has been unacceptable from Ferrari’s point of view, as it failed to win a race and recorded its lowest constructors’ championship finish in 40 years.

“It has been very difficult for all of us, myself too. It’s the worst season since 1980, we finished sixth in the constructors’ so it has been a very hard season — even harder than expected.

“We knew last winter that the car was eventually not performing as we were hoping. We understood very quickly during winter testing that the car would not be fast enough, but I don’t think we are expecting overall such a difficult season, not only from the performance point of view but if we look back at all the COVID pandemic and all the situations we had to face.

“The level of our performance has been inadequate for what should be the standard of Ferrari. We are very disappointed by it. We feel the full responsibility — we are sorry for the company, we are obviously sorry for our fans — but I’m pretty sure that this year will somehow make us stronger for the future.”