Mattia Binotto pinpoints key upgrade which gave Ferrari a major boost

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc took his first win since round three of the year at the Austrian Grand Prix last time out.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has described the pace difference between Red Bull and his team as “negligible” after upgrades to the rear wing for the Scuderia.

With Charles Leclerc starting at the back of the grid in Canada due to engine penalties, Ferrari trialled a new rear wing on the Monegasque’s car, and he recovered to fifth place as Max Verstappen narrowly beat Carlos Sainz to the win.

Both Ferraris had the upgrade on in Silverstone, but we never truly saw whether it made them genuinely quicker than the Austrian side at the British Grand Prix due to a wet first practice, a wet qualifying and damage for both Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the race.

In Austria, however, the Scuderia showed us something they barely had since the Australian Grand Prix before Red Bull’s upgrades helped them to seven straight wins – fantastic race pace.

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Leclerc and Sainz spent the opening laps of the sprint race in Spielberg battling each other, so Verstappen wandered off into the distance, but Leclerc was beginning to catch the reigning champion towards the end.

In the main event, the now five-time race winner passed Verstappen early on, and repeated the move twice more as Red Bull and Ferrari tried to out-strategize one another, taking his first win since Melbourne.

After watching his drivers show such superiority over their rivals in race pace in Austria, Binotto sees no daylight between the cars.

“I think in terms of pure speed [the cars are] very similar and quali is proving it, I don’t think there is much difference between the two cars,” he said.

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“We started pushing, putting pressure on Max at the restart and forcing him to have more pace and more pace was more degrading the tyres. 

“So, I think what we saw in the sprint has been more obvious because we put more pressure on.”

However, the Italian still reckons, as was the case at the beginning of the year, that Red Bull’s chassis coupled with exquisite Honda power is keeping Red Bull in front in a straight line.

“We had a disadvantage compared to the Red Bull, no doubt, in terms of straight-line speed especially in DRS zones, so in terms of the power of the DRS compared to ours,” explained Binotto.

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“We worked a lot on it, built a new rear wing that we introduced as first only on one example, which was on Charles’ [car] in Canada, we’ve had it on both cars since the UK and with that new rear wing.”

Overall though, there is barely any difference between Red Bull and Ferrari regarding raw pace.

“We simply reduced the gap, we closed the gap, we had more speed,” continued Binotto.

“I think they’ve still got a slight advantage, but very little or negligible, it’s why in the power we are very close. 

“Then it’s only about the grip limit in the cornering where we can make the difference.”

Leclerc’s win in Spielberg took him back above Perez and into second in the Drivers’ Standings after the Mexican failed to finish following opening lap contact with George Russell.

However, the Maranello side missed the chance to close the gap to Red Bull below 56 points due to Sainz’s late engine failure when he looked sure to pass Verstappen for a Ferrari one-two.