Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is unfazed by Red Bull’s recent string of performance enhancing upgrades, but admits it has made them “simply faster”.
Ferrari have enjoyed the best start to a Formula 1 season for over a decade, leading the constructors’ standings and the drivers’ standings with Charles Leclerc. However, Red Bull’s Miami GP victory for Max Verstappen, where the Dutchman dominated after passing Leclerc in the early stages, moves them to only six points behind in the constructors’ championship.
Throughout the Miami weekend, Ferrari trailed Red Bull in the speed traps by a sizeable margin, with updates to the RB18 having improved its straight line speed without compromising its downforce in low, medium or high speed corners.
The Italian team haven’t introduced any significant upgrades since the pre-season test in Bahrain, but in theory therefore have a greater capacity to utilise the budget cap and introduce further developments when Red Bull’s cash flow runs dry.
Leclerc’s championship lead diminished by eight points in Miami as he could not translate his pole position into a race win – tyre management in qualifying being something Ferrari’s higher downforce level helps them to excel in. Team boss Binotto was asked what exactly had happened to Ferrari’s strong low speed traction advantage by select media post-race in Miami.
“Certainly you’re right, so we are running a bit more downforce in terms of wing configurations, lacking speed on the straights, but normally gaining a bit more on the corners,” said Binotto. “It was the case in the corners 5, 6 and 7. Maybe not so much in the very slow parts – the one after 11, 12, and 13. Red Bull has been very strong in that respect.
“They have done very well on the medium tyres and managed to be as fast as us at least in the very slow speed corners… This is the reason why it’s something that we need to assess and understand. In fact, I believe that Red Bull have installed upgrades in the last races and these updates have made their car simply faster,” summed up Binotto.
He was unclear what exactly he thinks has made the Red Bull “simply faster”, but does clarify that the Ferrari team is not a “huge” distance behind. He was quizzed on the nature of Red Bull’s threat to Ferrari’s championship position and whether he is at all worried about their rival’s upturn in sheer performance in the last couple of races.
“If I may add something, in terms of performance assessments and how much Red Bull developed compared to us, is that a concern? I would say no,” says Binotto. “I don’t think that the difference is huge. It is a matter of maximum a couple of tenths. We should not forget that in qualifying we locked-out the front row.
“So, in qualifying we had a better performance compared to the Red Bull. Overall, in a weekend I don’t think there is much difference between the Red Bull and the Ferrari. If there is a concern it is how much Red Bull are developing considering the budget cap.
“That’s certainly a concern they have got. But more than a concern as I said… maybe it is a hope because at some stage the Red Bull will need to stop their development. I think we can say….about that point here…RB has brought updates which has helped them to be faster,” summed up Binotto.
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