Ferrari seemed to be back on top during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, with Charles Leclerc taking pole position in qualifying on Saturday in the upgraded F1-75. A good start and strong pace in the opening laps, as well as an error from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen saw Leclerc build a 15 second gap in the opening stages of the race.
Misfortune struck on lap 28 however, with Leclerc suddenly hit with a race ending power unit issue, forcing him to retire from the lead.
Commenting on the weekend, Ferrari team principal chose to look on the positive side, despite losing the lead of both championships.
“I think at the end we need to keep optimistic and I think it has been a positive overall weekend,” he said.
“We brought upgrades, the car has been fast, we had a fantastic pole yesterday and I think as well the race pace today was great.
“After a few races where we were struggling in terms of tyre wear, tyre degradation, today at least we proved we were pretty fast. We started on the new tyres, we should not forget that. Maybe it was an advantage.
“As well on the medium later on, short lengths for a stint but drivers feedback and drivers feeling was very strong and I think that’s at least positive.”
Binotto was also asked if he felt the Barcelona circuit particularly suits the Ferrari, which many believe has a substantial downforce level, at the cost of a more draggy car. The Ferrari man was quick to deny the drag levels of the car were too high however.
“I don’t think we are too draggy. If I look yesterday at the quali, I think there was only three clicks between us and the Red Bull. I don’t think that’s much of an issue.
“We are choosing as well to run high downforce type of wings, because we believe it is important for the downforce and to manage the tyres. So at the end it’s a choice of the team. We had [another] rear wing as well which was available with slightly less downforce which we tested on Friday but didn’t choose.
“We will come soon to Baku, which will be a long straight. I’m pretty confident we can have the speed when it will be required.”
The Ferrari boss also commented on Mercedes' apparent improvement, congratulating the team but also noting their deficit to the frontrunners is still comparable to that of his own team during the 2021 season.
“Congrats [firstly] to them because they have recovered, they improved the speed of their car,” he said.
"Yesterday they were seven tenths off the pace here in a quali lap, which is still a short circuit. Today, did they finish thirty seconds or more from the Red Bull? It would have been maybe forty seconds to Charles [Leclerc], and forty seconds over 66 laps is still six or seven tenths per lap.
“Six to seven tenths a lap is still significant, it’s like Ferrari last year.”
Binotto was also quick to defend Carlos Sainz who’s difficult start to the season continued with a sizable gap to Leclerc in qualifying and a trip to the gravel on Sunday afternoon. Binotto is confident however, that Sainz will be able to show his true potential.
“Carlos [Sainz] is struggling a bit more, but I don’t think he is really struggling. He is driving well and Charles [Leclerc] is really driving very well,” he said.
“I am sure he will get there at some stage, because that is the attitude of Carlos. Studying the data, trying different driving styles, adapting himself. It will maybe take a bit of time but he will get there.