Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has acknowledged that his team’s SF1000 appears to be behind the rival new cars of Mercedes and Red Bull after the first three days of pre-season testing.

Mercedes has shown impressive pace on the final day of the opening test, with Valtteri Bottas posting a 1m15.732s, already within 0.4s of his record pole position time from 2019. With Red Bull also completing significant mileage, Binotto says the picture is not as positive as it was 12 months ago when Ferrari looked strong through pre-season, only to struggle at the first race in Australia.

“We changed the approach to the testing and the program,” Binotto said. “So we focused the first session of these three days to try to map the car with various aero configurations without really trying to optimize the setup and look for overall performance.

“On the other side, last year it was true that we were more optimistic at that stage of the year because the lap time was easy to find and find. Even if we haven’t focused on performance yet, it seems a bit more difficult (this year). We should not forget the history of last year. Let’s wait until next week and wait for Australia to better understand the true picture.

“These three days have been really important for us, because at least we have collected all the data and have a clear picture and better understanding. What will be even more important is to understand that we are developing the car in the right direction; but it is a very long season with 22 races potentially, so I think there will be time to recover eventually. Let’s wait for next week and Australia until we assess properly the true performance of everybody.”

Binotto also admitted his analysis is based on estimating what Mercedes and Red Bull are doing, although he says whether Ferrari has hit its own performance targets is currently unclear.

“I think it is simply about looking at the delta pace and eventually what we assess with fuel loads and engine modes. Looking at the picture at the front comparing it to ourselves, I think we are not as fast as them,” he said.

“It is difficult to say (if Ferrari is in line with expectations) because we are not looking at performance yet, we have not optimized the car. That will be clearer next week.”

Ferrari’s current fastest lap of testing is 2.4 seconds slower than the best by Mercedes — albeit on a slightly harder tire compound — and 0.6s off Red Bull.

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