Binotto braced for tight fight with McLaren

Henry Valantine
Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team principal

Mattia Binotto wants more relevant Saturday mornings on sprint qualifying weekends.

Mattia Binotto says it is a sign of the positive steps Ferrari have made for the 2021 season that he was disappointed to not earn at least one top-three finish on Sunday.

The Ferrari team principal spoke of his frustration at not being able to see either Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz on the podium at Imola, with the pair coming home in a respectable P4 and P5 respectively.

With the changing conditions in the Scuderia’s first home race of the season, Binotto was pleased with how the car was able to adapt in challenging circumstances.

“We were able to achieve a good result in completely different conditions and on a completely different track than in Bahrain, which proves that we are going in the right direction,” Binotto said, per SpeedWeek.

“Even the fact that we are upset that we couldn’t get at least one driver on the podium confirms our progress. We can certainly say that the first two races have been positive, because we have not been able to cheer both cars in the points twice in a row since 2019 in Japan and Mexico.

“We have to continue like this and show at every race that we can improve.

“Mercedes and Red Bull Racing are still ahead and I don’t think that’s a surprise when you look at how strong they were already last year.

“I’m happy with the progress we’ve made, but it’s going to be a close fight against McLaren for third place in the team standings.

“As I’ve said many times, our goal is to improve in every area, and I think that’s doable.”

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Despite being frustrated with the car’s straight-line speed, Leclerc echoes the sentiments of his team principal, believing the Scuderia are right in the fight to improve their placing in the team standings – after the 2020 season saw them finish outside of the top five in the Constructors’ Championship for the first time in 40 years.

“I think a realistic goal for this year is to be just behind Red Bull and Mercedes,” Leclerc said in the pre-race press conference at Imola. “Realistically, I think it’s going to be very difficult to be able to fight with them.

“We are too far behind for now but we are in the fight with four, five other teams for the third-place in the constructors’ so it’s going to be a tight fight but if we do everything perfect it’s reachable.”

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