Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has declared himself ‘satisfied’ with the team’s performance in pre-season testing, after six days or running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Unlike last year, when they were the toast of testing and went to Melbourne buoyed up by a dominant performance, Ferrari seemed somewhat subdued throughout this year’s sessions.
Most rival teams in the F1 paddock felt that the Scuderia was ‘sandbagging’ and not showing the true potential of the new SF1000. However, Sebastian Vettel topped the times on Thursday with a time of 1:16.841s after completing 142 laps.
The final day saw his team mate Charles Leclerc set the fourth fastest time of the entire test with a lap of 1:16.360s on the fastest C5 tyre that gave rise to a real sense of hope for the devoted Tifosi.
Even so, that time was slower that Ferrari managed here last year – while virtually all its rivals were putting in faster times than they had 12 months previously.
“We’re not playing games, this is our true performance at the moment,” he admitted. “How good or bad it is, it’s only after the first three races we will have a clearer picture.”
He denied that he was feeling undue pressure from the expectations of the fans and the Ferrari top brass.
“The pressure is there. The pressure should be seen as a motivation, not a drama,” he said. “When you’re not going as fast as you would like or you should, you get the pressure.
“As Ferrari, we only have one objective. If you are not reaching it, you cannot be relieved.
Even so, Binotto insisted that he wasn’t overly concerned at this early stage. “I am satisfied with how these winter tests have gone, from the completed programme to the way the team has worked,” he said on Friday.
“We approached these two test sessions in a very different way from last year, using the first three days to get to know our car in all the possible configurations.”
Binotto explained that the team had been focussed on race weekend simulations rather than simply trying to go for fastest laps.
“The performance over a dry lap isn’t yet where we want it to be, while the indications are relatively better when it comes to reliability and long runs too,” he said.
However he admitted that the results were still “not yet positive enough” for where the team needs to be if it’s to stop Mercedes clinching a seventh consecutive driver/team double championship in 2020.
“We will head back to Maranello with a huge amount of data to analyse in the knowledge that we have a range of work to do,” he accepted.
“We are where we thought we’d be. We knew we had put a lot of drag, we knew the power unit performance, so that is the speed we were expecting. The others are a lot faster on the straights, that is the situation.”
“But as a team we feel ready for the Australian Grand Prix, which will give us a clearer idea of where we stand.”