Ferrari insist more of their new car’s potential will be revealed by the end of winter testing – but remain sure they are “behind” Mercedes heading towards the first race in two weeks’ time.
The new SF1000 has been conspicuous by its absence near the top of the timesheets during the first four days of running at Barcelona, with the team yet to lap within two seconds of Mercedes’ benchmark pace.
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But while Ferrari say their under-the-radar start will not last all week, team boss Mattia Binotto reiterated: “We will behind by the start of the season.”
Explaining their approach, Binotto told a news conference: “We are really focused on ourselves, trying to understand the car and correlate the car with all the data we have got back home. So the first week of testing was focused on that.
“This week will be a bit different. [Wednesday] we started working on set-up, trying to optimise it and certainly for the rest of the week we will try to push for more performance just to see where we are.”
But Ferrari believe ‘where we are’ is currently behind at least Mercedes.
“Our main competitors are very strong,” added Binotto. “The way that Mercedes have set a fast lap is quite impressive on the first day and the first morning.
“They have shown to be reliable, extremely fast and they are still the benchmark and the reference.
“They are the guys who won the last championships and they remain the best team so far. From our side, we know exactly where we want to go and we know exactly our objectives. Our project is ongoing and we are very focused.”
Have Ferrari found the right cornering/straightline balance?
Having acknwoeldged “mistakes” in their execution of pre-season testing last year, when they set the headline times only to struggle once the season got under way, Binotto says Ferrari have deliberately taken time to analyse their car and correlate simulation data.
Both the Italian and Sebastian Vettel, joining Binotto for the news conference, agreed that the SF1000 was stronger in Barcelona’s corners than its predecessor.
“The car of this season compared to the one of last season is overall faster,” confirmed Binotto.
“We are faster in the cornering, slower on the straights, which was an objective when designing that car. We know that last year that we were too slow in the corners so we tried to put as much downforce as we could in the car to be as fast as possible in the corners, but now we’re paying off on the straights.
“Still in terms of overall balance, set-up, slow speed corners it is something we need to improve but that’s part of the job of this week.”
Vettel, who completed 84 laps during a productive start to the second test despite a spin through the gravel, added: “We feel the improvement. Where is it an improvement? Obviously in the corners. Testing is not the point to go fastest down the straight.
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