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Binotto: Ferrari's F1 performance so far in 2021 is "a relief"

Ferrari Formula 1 chief Mattia Binotto says the performance of the team’s car so far this season is “a relief”, proving its development work is going in the right direction.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21

Ferrari struggled through its worst F1 season for 40 years in 2020 as it slumped to sixth place in the constructors’ championship, scoring just three podium finishes.

The team was hampered by a lack of straight-line speed and a draggy car concept, issues it sought to remedy with the updated SF21 car for this year.

The results so far have been positive, with Charles Leclerc qualifying fourth for each of the first two races. Leclerc finished fourth at Imola two weeks ago, leading home team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr in fifth.

It has placed Ferrari at the front of the midfield fight, going toe-to-toe with McLaren, and shown the team is on the up again after last year’s struggles.

Team principal Binotto acknowledged that it was a relief to see the team’s development work was correlating between the factory and the track, helping take its performance in the right direction.

“I think that the relief is to see that we are developing in the right directions,” Binotto said.

“It is important to see that simulations [and work in the] wind tunnel are now correlating at the track better than what it was in the past.

“That gives confidence in the tools, and our design capacity for the future. That, I think, was the most important [thing] and I think in that respect, it is a relief.

“Certainly, the fact that the car is performing better, so that we can have a better result at the end of the race weekend, is important.

“We often said that our performance of last year was not acceptable for a Ferrari brand, so we knew that these areas were important for us, showing developments in all the areas.

“So again, I think the performance is certainly a relief.”

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

McLaren currently sits seven points clear of Ferrari in the teams’ standings thanks to Lando Norris’s podium finish at Imola, clinched after passing Leclerc on the restart after the red flag.

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Binotto said that while it would be a close battle all year with McLaren, the bigger objective for Ferrari was to continue to take steps forward in all areas.

“I'm already happy with what we managed with the progress, but as I think it's going to be a tight battle with McLaren for third place,” Binotto said.

“Now is that our objective for the season? I think our objective, as I often said, is to still prove that we can progress in all the areas.

“I think we can do it. It’s really a matter of mentality and I think we will see in the end the result.

“What is important for me in the end is to show that we are capable of progressing and on that, we’ve got a good starting point.”

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