Mattia Binotto insists Ferrari are still “outsiders” compared to Mercedes and Red Bull going into the new campaign.
That is despite the Scuderia having been consistently at, or very near, the top of the timesheet throughout every session of pre-season testing.
The new F1-75 car has impressed both visually and with its pace and reliability, giving rise to suggestions among some pundits that Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be in the hunt for several race victories.
But just as Mercedes in particular have sought to play down expectations by maintaining they are off the pace and not yet contenders for wins, Binotto is also keen to deflect any pressure away from his team despite having been happy with how preparations have gone.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) March 14, 2022
“I think focusing on ourselves, it has been six days positive,” Binotto told F1 TV of Ferrari’s work in testing at Barcelona and Bahrain.
“We are running consistently, learning a lot from the car, getting a lot of data, cross-correlating back at Maranello, wind tunnel and simulator. That was the first objective and I think we achieved it.
“Then in terms of performance it’s very difficult to judge. I still believe Red Bull and Mercedes are the main [favourites]. I think they are the ones that won last year, both World Championships, driver or constructor. They have proved to be very strong teams in the past – they had a second of advantage at the end of last year.
“I think there is no reason why they are not the favourites today. So for me, they are the favourites.
“I think as Ferrari, we should try to be at least outsiders, try to be as close as we can. And if we look at the performance so far…so difficult to judge. Certainly I hope it will be very close at the end, all together.”
Not since 2019 have Ferrari won a race – they bagged three consecutively in September of that year – and ending that barren run at some point of the 2022 campaign is the stated target of their president, John Elkann.
Binotto added: “I’m pretty sure this is a great team, can be a strong team, and prove again this year we can be back to being competitive. That’s where we are focused on.
“There is much to do, I think a very long season. Bahrain is the first race but there will be another 22 or 21 races after it.
“I think developments through the season will be a key element as well, so let’s see. It’s a matter of staying focused on ourselves and trying to do the best.”
‘Eight out of 10’ for Ferrari’s pre-season
Mattia Binotto has given Ferrari's pre-season testing an eight out of 10.