Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Mattia Binotto has downplayed the Italian squad’s supposed straight-line speed advantage over Mercedes.

At the Chinese Grand Prix, Mercedes claimed GPS data showed Ferrari held a significant top speed advantage on Shanghai’s long straights, though the Scuderia struggled to challenge the reigning world champions as it recorded a third consecutive one-two finish.

Ferrari has been tipped to return to form at next weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but Binotto doubts his team will have a big performance advantage over its rivals.

“If you look at the speed of Mercedes [in China], I thought they were very strong as well,” Binotto said.

“So maybe we should ask them how they are so good. I don’t think there is much on the straights between us and the others.

Baku is a circuit where you have got a different aero configuration, certainly, so I think it’s not only power units, it will be aero configuration we may choose for there.

“It’s not only the straight in Baku, it’s a lot of corners. It’s a city circuit, very difficult in that respect. So let’s see.

“I think that the competition is very tough, and there are races where you are maybe in front a few hundred of tenths, and races where you are behind.

“More important is to keep up the development of the car, because it will be a very long race, 18 races to go.”

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton is fully expecting Ferrari to retain its straight-line speed advantage over Mercedes in Baku.

“I’ve not really looked into detail why they weren’t as quick,” he said. “They were quick on the straights, they were gaining something like four-tenths on the straights overall, but they were losing in the corners.

“I think it’ll be interesting to see how long they keep that strategy. At some places, it will be great, like probably the next race is going to be really good for them in that respect. But then in others, maybe not so much.

“It’s a really, really great track,” Hamilton added. “And it’s one that I’ve honestly struggled with a bit, particularly last year, I can’t remember the year before that. So it’ll be interesting.

“I go there with a mindset that I’ve got to try and improve on my previous years’ performance. I was fortunate to get the win there last year, but I wasn’t quick enough really through the weekend.

“That’s a place where I expect Valtteri to be quick. I think Ferrari is going to be particularly quick.”



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