Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto estimates that Red Bull gained two tenths of a second per lap as a result of the upgrades they introduced at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Having been comprehensively beaten on pace by Ferrari in Australia, Red Bull arrived Imola with a raft of upgrades that were described as a “risk” by adviser Dr Helmut Marko given the hour of practice they had to test them out before Friday qualifying.
They evidently worked though as Max Verstappen won both the sprint and the race itself, before beating Charles Leclerc to victory in Miami to cut the Monegasque’s championship advantage to 19 points following two reliability-induced retirements in the first three rounds.
Ferrari gave new engines to Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in the last two but, asides from skids on the back of the car to help with stability and limit “porpoising,” have not added anything major to the car since the beginning of the year.
They intend to do so in the Spanish Grand Prix in just over a week, with adaptations expected to be made to the sidepods and wings.
Binotto is aware of the importance of making the new upgrade as functional as possible in their bid to re-establish control over Red Bull in the title fight.
“In the next races it will be at least our turn to try to develop as much as we can the car by introducing upgrades,” said Binotto.
“I think it’s not a surprise that we may have a package in Barcelona which will be important for us.
“As usual I hope that the package we are introducing is working as expected in order to try to catch up the current gap we’ve got compared to the Red Bull.”
The Italian corroborated the earlier predictions of Red Bull’s predicted gain in lap time by saying that they “got a couple of tenths per lap faster to us.”
He went into the finer details of where the Milton Keynes-based side have managed to enhance their performance relative to Ferrari.
“Red Bull has been very good in that respect, they were very good on the medium tyres to be as fast as us in the very slow speed corners,” he said.
“The reason why is that it’s something that we need to assess and understand.
“And, in fact, I believe it’s that they have got upgrades in the last races that have made their car simply faster.”
Championship leader Charles Leclerc has won two of the opening five rounds of the season, but has watched Verstappen claim the last two wins.
While the Monegasque is aware that the Scuderia must gain back the time they have lost to Red Bull after their upturn in form, he maintains that “the concern is not there”.
“Of course, they’ve been improving. I think we all expected them to be improving. They are a very strong team and we are aware of this so it’s not a surprise,” he added.
“But I am also confident about my team, and I’m sure that will bring upgrades that will bring us back to the top.
“I hope so. But we are working well and we’ve been working very well in the past few years to come back on top.
“So, I hope that those upgrades will help us to challenge them again.”
Spain will be the first of a string of three European races, before the circus travels back to North America for the first Canadian Grand Prix since 2019.