Ferrari could switch its focus to the 2021 car after just a “few races” if team boss Mattia Binotto declares that the gap to Mercedes is “too big”.
Unlike last season when Ferrari set the pace in pre-season testing, this year the Scuderia lost that battle.
Ferrari revealed it had taken a different approach to testing, opting to concentrate on reliability and not pace.
However, the team was soon admitting that something was wrong with Binotto fearing Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc could be trounced at the season-opening Australian GP.
Leclerc set Ferrari’s fastest lap time in testing but was over six-tenths down on Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
Binotto says if that gap remains in the opening races of this year’s championship, Ferrari will be tempted to swap its focus to 2021 with its new aerodynamic regulations and brand new car.
“How much will the 2020 catch-up affect the 2021 [project]? – that’s certainly a good point,” he told Motorsport.com.
“I think it’s a compromise that we need to find out. I think we are very early in the season, and you cannot compromise the entire season itself.
“So at the start of the season, we certainly keep pushing on 2020 as much as we can, because it’s time for us to understand the car and the weaknesses. And hopefully, it is things that we can address as soon as possible.
“If I see after a few races, and we will still understand that the gap is too big, then maybe it’s a considerations that we can take into account.
“But it’s early stage right now. I think it’s just few days of testing. I think there are things that we can address on the car, hopefully quite soon.
“So at the moment, we should keep our plan as it was for 2020/2021.”
No matter gap, though, there will come a point during the 2020 season when all the F1 teams plug their resources solely into the 2021 cars.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff feels that could be a fine line to walk as the teams try to balance 2020 success, and its prize money, with 2021’s.
“There’s such a massive regulatory change for 2021, that balancing your allocation of resource will be crucial in terms of how much of your resource you’re switching into the 2021 car,” he said.
“Obviously, the learning and development slope is much steeper at the beginning. So if you get it wrong and you’re months behind, you might be half a second behind.
“And this is a challenge which we have embraced in the past through two regulatory changes, and we love that one.”