Binotto: Mercedes will be ‘two or three months ahead’ of Ferrari

Mattia Binotto does not agree that Ferrari have the upper hand over Mercedes after the first pre-season test in Barcelona.

Mattia Binotto is unconvinced by the notion that Ferrari have put together a better race car than Mercedes this season, and predicts that the Silver Arrows will have the upper hand come the first round of the season in Bahrain.

Ferrari completed 438 laps during the three days of running in Spain last week, and Charles Leclerc went fastest in day two, leading Mercedes’ George Russell to suggest that an “orange car and a red car in particular” look especially strong, also referring to McLaren who had gone fastest through Lando Norris on day one.

However, Sir Lewis Hamilton led a Silver Arrows one-two on the final day of testing as they improved on a disappointing Thursday by setting 160 laps – 50  more than they had managed in a troubled day two.

Before this transpired, Binotto dismissed rumours that the Scuderia are quicker than them ahead of the new season.

“I’m pretty sure that they will be two or three months ahead of us by the time we will be in Bahrain!” he told Sky Sports.

“I think that it’s very difficult today to judge the performance and the relative competitiveness between the teams.

“What was important for us was to collect data here and I think we can be somehow satisfied with the amount of laps we did. [Everything] will be analysed back in Maranello.”

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has previously revealed that his team will be installing further updates to the car before the second test in Bahrain and the and then the opening round of the season in the same venue, and the Italian is aware that multiple others will be doing the same.

“I heard rumours that our competitors will bring big updates and upgrades,” he added.

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“I think so far the car is behaving well, or it’s behaving without any big issues.

“The exercise so far has been done properly. Will that be good enough? We should not forget that last year at the end of the season we were [giving away] at least a second per lap to the best [teams].”

The 52-year-old hopes that the third-placed Constructors’ Championship finishers last year can be competitive this season, but reiterated that it is difficult to predict relative performance from testing alone.

“We believe that for us, it will be good somehow to be back to being competitive in 2022. But it’s very early days today to judge,” he explained.