Binotto coy on Ferrari performance as Ecclestone questions his leadership

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Mattia Binotto offered a coy assessment of Ferrari's performance ahead of the new Formula 1 season.

Heading to Australia, the Italian team was very much the unknown quantity after a subdued winter and their boss offering a downbeat assessment of their competitiveness.

However, while many expected Ferrari to suddenly pick up the pace when the racing got serious, Binotto insisted that wasn't the case.

“We have analysed the data, I don’t think there is anything wrong in terms of correlation, that’s the true performance of the car,” he told


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“We have been a lot faster through the corners compared to last year so the car is doing what we are expecting, but we’re slower on the straights.

“I think we believe that having more downforce should help us not only on a single lap but also in the race, like in tyre management and tyre wear.

“If I think of the race simulations we did, compared to single laps performance, we have been stronger on the longer stints and that’s the benefit of more downforce.

“Where will be compared to the others? Barcelona is always testing, you need to wait for the first three races to understand where you are," Binotto added.

“It’s important for us as a team to continue progressing, to have solid race weekends, from the team, driver and reliability point of view.”

As for the performance of Mercedes, who posted the quickest times in pre-season...

“They did a great job, so we need to recognise what they did," the Ferrari boss accepted. “On our side, we steered the direction of our project into a different direction compared to the past.

“Normally when you do that, you may lose initially some ground but hopefully that will give some more potential development for the future.”

It's tricky to know how this extended off-season will impact the relative competitiveness of each team as they cope with differing levels of impact from the coronavirus in different places.

But with the prospect of possibly another disappointing year for the Scuderia, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone doesn't believe Binotto is the man to lead the team, 15 months after replacing Maurizio Arrivabene. 

“No, he’s an engineer," he said via the Daily Mail. "They need someone in there who can make people understand that when you say something it happens. Not maybe. Or a discussion.”

Instead, Bernie thinks Maranello should have turned to a controversial figure.

“I would have got Flavio Briatore to run Ferrari,” he added. “Flavio would do what he always did with Benetton and Renault: he’d steal the best people from other teams.

“The problem is that in the end, Flavio would have let people think Ferrari belonged to him.”