Mattia Binotto believes Ferrari’s back-to-back pole positions in Monaco and Azerbaijan do not accurately reflect the manufacturer’s position within the rankings of Formula 1 teams in the 2021 season.
In Monaco last month, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took a surprise pole as the SF21 car’s low-speed performance propelled the team into contention with Red Bull and Mercedes.
In the lead up to qualifying in Baku, Ferrari refuted suggestions that it would be able to take pole, only for Charles Leclerc to top qualifying for the second time in a row.
Despite Leclerc’s best efforts, Sunday proved more difficult as he slipped behind Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez, Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel, finishing fourth.
Given Ferrari’s grid position, Binotto admitted after the race that the team had been expecting more, leaving Baku a mere two points ahead of McLaren in the battle for third in the constructors’ championships.
Mattia Binotto: ‘I think there are two cars which are stronger’
Ferrari’s current performance is less competitive than Red Bull and Mercedes, according to Binotto, who acknowledges the pole positions were anomalies and are not indicative of Ferrari’s overall performance.
“I think obviously there are two cars ahead of us which are still stronger, no doubt.
“It was great to have pole position both in Monaco and here in Baku, but I don’t think that is reflecting our true performance overall. I think there are two cars which are stronger.
“But we are progressing. We are progressing because eventually we are learning [about] the car, we are exploiting it better compared to the start of the season. And we know that there will be some developments coming in the future.
“So overall, I think that’s where we are. [In the race] I think we were hoping for a better pace overall, seeing the qualy.”
Binotto was pleased with the pace Leclerc and Carlos Sainz showed once they started using hard tyres and were running in clean air despite Leclerc dropping to fourth in the opening stint on the softs.
“We knew that on the soft, we would have struggled.
“I think as a matter of fact, we struggled the most with the soft. On the hard tyres, when in free air, and I think Carlos in free air pace was representative, we were competitive.
“Certainly we still need to improve our pace in the race, no doubt. But I don’t think that overall, we were poor in performance when in free air.
“We were suffering in the dirty air, which both drivers mentioned, and that’s where we need to focus our analysis,” said Binotto.