Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has dismissed Lewis Hamilton’s claim that his team is significantly quicker than Mercedes and warned it would be “completely wrong” to believe so.
Hamilton claims Ferrari has an advantage of up to half a second over Mercedes towards the end of pre-season testing in Barcelona, but made his comments before setting a time just 0.003s off Sebastian Vettel’s best. Binotto says Ferrari is still learning about the SF90, and expects Mercedes to show a comparable level of performance in Melbourne.
“After a total of eight days, which were very intensive and interesting days, we are still focusing on ourselves, we are still learning our car to understand the limit of performance but as well the reliability,” Binotto said.
“This is very important preparation for the entire season so I’m happy to know that Hamilton believes that we are faster, but we believe they are very strong. I believe that Mercedes will be very, very strong in Australia, and I think it would be completely wrong to think that today we are faster than them.
“We know that here we may run different fuel levels, we’ve got different programs, so I’m not expecting them to be behind us, I think it’ll be very, very close.”
Binotto was speaking before Hamilton’s time was set, but also before Vettel stopped on track in the afternoon session with an electrical problem that ended Ferrari’s test prematurely. The Italian almost pre-empted such an issue when insisting he is not satisfied with the car as it currently is.
“I think that we did a lot of work, but I’m not pleased for where we are at the moment,” he said. “I think I would like to be faster, I would like to be more reliable. So I think there is still much to do, and the season still hasn’t started yet.
“The season is 21 races, so testing is only testing, only a few days. I’m pleased to say that the car is behaving as we’re expecting. That’s the starting point. There were many issues to be addressed, and performance to be push forward. Certainly, the fact that the car is running properly is a good starting point, but that’s it.”