Mattia Binotto has downplayed Red Bull’s pace advantage over Ferrari, saying it is “maximum a couple of tenths”.
The Ferrari team boss reiterated his “hope” that the budget cap will limit Red Bull’s upgrades and allow the Scuderia to close the gap.
Max Verstappen claimed maximum points for the second race in a row, winning the Miami Grand Prix to slash Charles Leclerc’s lead in the Drivers’ Championship from 34 to just 19 points.
He did so in an upgraded RB18, Red Bull introducing several improvements at the Imola race weekend which saw them not only extend their straightline speed advantage, but also pip Ferrari through the slow corners.
Binotto, though, isn’t worried.
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“In terms of performance assessments, and how much they [Red Bull] developed compared to us, is that a concern? I would say not,” he said as per Autosport.
“I don’t think that the difference is huge. It is a matter of maximum a couple of tenths and we should not forget that [in Miami] we locked the front row.
“In qualifying we had a better performance compared to the Red Bull, so overall, in a weekend, I don’t think there is much difference between the Red Bull and the Ferrari.
“If there is a concern, it is how much they are developing considering the budget gap. But more than a concern, maybe it is a hope because at some stage they will need to stop.”
Ferrari will introduce their first big upgrade for the F1-75 at the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix.
“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,” Binotto revealed.
“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 the package we are introducing is working as expected in order to try to catch up the current gap we’ve got compared to Red Bull.”
With the teams balancing upgrades versus the budget cap with their all-new cars, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner reckons the battle between Leclerc and Verstappen could rage all the way to the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.
And as that fight continues, he expects the tension to ramp up.
“Last year there was a lot of needle, a lot going on off track as well as on track, whereas this year seems much more focused about what’s going on on track,” he said.
“And I think the racing has been great between Charles and Max. And the first four races have been epic. If that continues through the season, inevitably it will boil over at some point as it gets more competitive and the stakes get higher in the second half of the year.
“But certainly what we’ve seen so far has been very respectful racing – hard racing but fair racing.”