Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted he was relieved to see confirmation of the progress the team have made in the first race of the 2021 F1 season.
The team’s power unit was thought to be one of its most significant weaknesses last year. Ferrari and their two customer teams were at a significant disadvantage on high-speed tracks.
Binotto said this is one of several areas Ferrari have made gains this year.
“Certainly the power unit has improved and we’re happy to see that as well for Sauber and Haas,” he said. “[But] I think on our side, we progressed in all the areas that was possible.
“The aero is certainly better in terms of behaviour [and] correlations. But the power unit, the car overall, we were aware it was possible to make improvements and tried to do them.
“And I think it’s an entire package. So I will not really speak in areas, it’s the entire package which now is better.”
Ferrari has made a series of changes to the structure of its technical department since its poor start to last season. Binotto is encouraged by the improvements he sees within the team.
“I feel relieved certainly because we may work in better positions and that’s healthy for the team. It’s important that the team that work in healthy conditions, staying calm and positive.
“Coming here, seeing the car that has progressed with the team in a serenity, let me say, where we can work in an even better manner, that was important.”
At the beginning of last season the FIA announced its investigation into Ferrari’s power unit had concluded with a private settlement between it and the team. That coincided both with new regulations being introduced to police the operation of engines and Ferrari’s abrupt downturn in form.
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That added to speculation over what had changed on Ferrari’s power unit had changed last year. But Binotto stressed the team’s improvement in 2021 is not solely down to the new engine it has produced for this season.
“[It’s] not only from the engine, I think again engine, chassis, aero, tools, correlations – that was all important for us and I think in the end that was key.
“How much it’s coming from the power unit, the improvement? I think it is difficult to say, because it’s all relative to the competitors, it’s not an absolute value, and I don’t know what the progress is of the others. At the end, you need always to judge the entire package.”
Despite their encouraging start to the season, Binotto cautioned against raising expectations. He said the team cannot expect to challenge for podium finishes in the near future, particularly as they are channelling more resources into their new car for the 2022 F1 season, when the technical regulations will change significantly.
“I think the gap that we are missing compared to the top competitors, today in the race still was big,” said Binotto. “So it’s still a long way, but it will depend as well track to track.
“We know that we will not work much on the development of that car because we are already focused on the 2022 [car] in terms of design and development back at Maranello. I’m pretty sure it’s the same with the other cars and the other competitors.
“But still, I think that if we look at our race today, we’ve got feedback now from drivers, they are starting learning the car. They start knowing what are the limitations of the car and eventually we may address them, or we may improve it.
“So I think the next three, four races will first indicate the true performance and potential of our car compared to the others. We wait for them before having a judgement.”
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