Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has highlighted tyre degradation as a significant reason behind their current deficit to Red Bull in race trim.
Max Verstappen has dominated the past five races, despite starting further back on the grid at certain events – rising from the fourth row last time out in Italy to take a comfortable win, despite Charles Leclerc having taken pole position on outright pace.
Ferrari have not been able to compete with Verstappen over a full race distance of late, despite their car still being at least as fast as the RB18 over one lap.
But while both Ferrari drivers have done their level best to keep up with the reigning World Champion, Verstappen and Red Bull have had something of an edge over their rivals.
The Ferrari team boss pinpointed tyres as a significant part of that, explaining that tyre degradation has seen their pace drop off faster during stints, allowing Verstappen to ease himself clear of the chasing pack.
This is a priority area for Ferrari to try and sort, though Binotto admitted it may not come this season.
“I think we do not only look back at the previous two [races] but the last three because I would include as well Hungary,” Binotto said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“In the last races, I think that the performance of the Red Bull has been better than ours. Not in qualifying, because I see that in qualy we have still got a good pace – so let me say the pure performance is still there.
“But then with the race pace, we are suffering tyre degradation. In that respect, I think the Red Bull is a better car, so they’ve been capable of developing that car for a better balance that we didn’t.
“The reason? I think it is something that we are looking at, because we need to address it. If not for this season, certainly for the next one.”
He explained the issue further, believing that Red Bull are managing to keep their tyres in a better operating window through various corner configurations and speeds, where Ferrari have struggled to put their car in the right place setup wise.
“If we look back at the last races, where in terms of tyre degradation we have not been the best, we certainly had issues with the car balance,” he said.
“Having an open balance, medium-high speed to low-speed corners, generated overheating into the tyres themselves, which somehow then brings to the degradation. So, we know that the car balance was not the right one.
“The reason of the poor car balance was due to aero developments that brought us there. It was a question mark for us.”