Mattia Binotto has refuted claims that Ferrari are the faster team ahead in pre-season testing, adding that Mercedes are still a “very strong” threat.
The recently-appointed Ferrari team principal has rejected Lewis Hamilton’s claim that Ferrari have a pace advantage of around half-a-second per lap.
The Italian team have had a very successful pre-season test, with both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel taking turns at lowering the testing benchmark, and prompting many to label them as the favourites ahead of the new season.
However, speaking during the final day of testing, Binotto says that he is not expecting Mercedes to be behind for the opening race in Melbourne.
“After a total of eight days, which were very interesting and intensive days, we are still focusing on ourselves,” said Binotto.
“We are still trying to learn our car, to still find the limits of performance, and also reliability. These are very important for preparation of the entire season.
“I’m happy to know that Hamilton thinks we are faster. I believe they are very strong, I believe that Mercedes will be very strong in Australia, and I think that it will be completely wrong to think that today we are faster than them.
“We know that here we might run different fuel levels, we’ve got different programmes, so I’m not expecting them to be behind us and it will be very close.”