Ferrari boss suggests Hamilton will struggle to finish on the podium in 2022

Mattia Binotto seems confident about Ferrari's chances this year.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto and Christian Horner in 2019.v1

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has issued a statement of intent ahead of the new Formula 1 season, adding that he believes they will be competing with Red Bull for title glory in 2022.

Ferrari ended the 2021 Constructors’ Championship third after the arrival of Carlos Sainz to partner Charles Leclerc and, though it was a significant stride forward from their horrible 2020 campaign, they ended the year 290 points behind eventual champions Mercedes.

But the Scuderia were able to do something the top two teams, Mercedes and Red Bull, could not, and that is pour development resources into this season.

They have been working on the new challenger under the new technical regulations, and created a “brave” chassis design along with a fuel blend with partners Shell that features 10 percent ethanol.

They implemented the new engine at last year’s Russian Grand Prix, and it helped Sainz to two of his four podium finishes in an impressive debut year in red for the Spaniard.

The Maranello outfit managed 787 laps over the course of the two pre-season tests in Barcelona and Bahrain, perennially appearing at the top of the timing screens.

This, coupled with Mercedes’ perceived struggles during the six days, has led the Silver Arrows pairing of George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton to suggest that the Italian giants are the favourites.

While Sainz has previously been keen to deflect attention away from himself and the team, Binotto has made it unequivocally clear that he is on a mission to win this year.

“We are not signing up for second place now. We want to be the best in every race,” he said, quoted by The Express.

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The Italian is aware of the strengths of current world champion Max Verstappen, but he is optimistic that his driver pairing can consistently better the results of his team-mate Sergio Perez.

“Red Bull is very strong, especially Max. Maybe Max will be in front of us, we will drive behind him and only then will the other one come. Last year we were about 25hp behind the competition,” he explained.

Having put plenty of mileage on the board and displayed notable pace, the 52-year-old believes his team are right on par with the Milton Keynes-based squad.

“We tried to calculate that now on the data (from the winter test). For now we are at the same level, maybe a bit better. We are very happy with what we have achieved,” he added.

Whether Mercedes are struggling as much as they claim will be seen at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, but there is a very legitimate chance we could be in for a three-team title fight this season.