Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto is “not surprised” to see Racing Point near the top of the timesheets in testing given the “shape of the car”.
Earlier this year Racing Point unveiled what the media has dubbed a ‘pink Mercedes’.
The new RP20, which was developed in Mercedes’ windtunnel, is not only powered by a Mercedes engine and fitted with a Mercedes gearbox but also sports many of the aerodynamic features of the Mercedes F1 cars.
The front wing, rear wing and airbox are similiar to this year’s W11’s while the sidepods are taken from last year’s design.
The copycat car is working well for Racing Point.
The team has been near the top of the timesheets most days of testing with Lance Stroll third fastest on Thursday.
“They are certainly very close,” Binotto admitted.
“I think it’s not surprising if you look at the shape of the car.
“But yes, they are strong.
“But I’m convinced Ferrari as a team are strong enough to develop now onwards and to make sure we are strong enough not to be threatened.”
Racing Point, though, won’t be the only threat at the start of the season.
Binotto is also expecting Red Bull to challenge Ferrari to be Mercedes’ closest rival.
“It’s hard to judge,” he said. “They were competitive at the end of last season.
“It’ll be a surprise if they’re not competitive again.”
With just one day of testing still to be run, the Italian is not expecting any major changes to the pecking order between Friday evening and the Australian GP.
“Honestly I don’t think so,” he said. “We know what we are doing. We know if we have margin or not.
“If you look at the race simulation pace, [Lewis] Hamilton’s was quite impressive.”