Mattia Binotto believes a new rear wing introduced by Ferrari over the past three races has helped to close the gap to Red Bull after a second consecutive victory in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc had the pace to catch and pass Max Verstappen on three occasions at the Red Bull Ring, backing up Carlos Sainz’s win at Silverstone a week before. That came after Sainz pressured Verstappen all the way to the flag in Canada, and Binotto says a new rear wing that was introduced in Montreal – on Leclerc’s car – has played a big role in the recent form.
“We had a disadvantage compared to the Red Bull no doubt in terms of straight line speed especially in DRS zones – so in terms of the power of their DRS compared to ours,” Binotto said. “We worked a lot on it.
“The new rear wing that we introduced only on one example – on Charles – in Canada, so we had it on both cars since the UK and with that new rear wing I think we simply reduced the gap.
“We closed the gap we had in terms of speed. I think they still have got a slight advantage, but very little or negligible, and while in terms of power we are very close then it’s only about the grip limited in the corners where we can make the difference.
“I think we have been faster not only because of the car but also the two drivers. They made a fantastic weekend in terms of car balance, car set-up, understanding the tires, managing the tires, and driving on track.
“They were both doing very well, being very fast, so I think that has been something in terms of relative competitive performance.”
While Verstappen won the Sprint on Saturday in Austria, Binotto says the way the drivers approached the first stint of the grand prix led to Ferrari being able to press home an advantage it had in terms of tire degradation.
“I think in terms of pure speed we are very similar and the qualifying is proving it. I don’t think there is much difference between the two cars, if any it was in terms of tire degradation.
“Maybe a read into that was in the Sprint, I think we had a bit more of an advantage on tire degradation which we transformed into more evidence [in the race] because we started putting pressure on Max at the very start and forcing him to have some more pace and then degrading the tires more. I think what we saw in the Sprint was more obvious [in the race] because we put more pressure on.”
Despite that turnaround, it wasn’t a perfect race for Ferrari as Sainz retired and Binotto concedes he found it too tense to watch the closing stages as Leclerc also had reliability concerns.
“I have to admit I was very nervous. Disappointed as well with what happened to Carlos, but so nervous that I stopped watching the race in the last three laps.”