Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn has backed Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto to turnaround the team’s fortunes, adding the Italian “knows what he is doing”.

Ferrari was tipped as the pre-season favourites but is yet to record a win so far during the opening five races of 2019, while rivals Mercedes have taken five straight one-two finishes.

The Scuderia brought a number of updates to Barcelona, including a upgraded power unit, though Mercedes was still able to inflict the Italian squad with another crushing defeat on a circuit Ferrari had looked so strong at during winter testing.

“Mercedes’ updates appear to have been a significant step forward but it seems one can’t say the same of Ferrari,” Brawn said.

“Listening to the comments of its drivers and of team principal Mattia Binotto, the updates introduced in Barcelona produced the expected results, but not with the same impact as those of their arch-rivals.

“In such a competitive sport it’s not enough to simply progress, you have to do so at a pace that outguns rivals who are often already one step ahead and pushing on with further upgrades. You are aiming at a moving target, the bar is raised every day and it requires ever more effort to catch up. I can understand the frustration surely being felt in Maranello.

“They are working hard, even bringing forward developments originally scheduled for later in the campaign, but still they come to the track and realise that not only have they not closed the gap, it’s grown.

“I’m definitely not going to give Mattia any advice,” Brawn added. “He knows what he’s doing, as he’s already experienced this sort of situation during his long career in Formula 1.

“A new cycle has begun at Ferrari and it’s partly from difficult situations such as this one that one learns and improves, because sometimes the cold shower of defeat produces a quicker response than the warm comfort zone of reasonable results.”

Despite Mercedes opening up a near 100-point buffer over Ferrari following its dominant start to the campaign, Brawn believes the championship fight is still far from over.

“It’s becoming difficult to find adjectives to describe Mercedes’ first quarter of the season,” Brawn said.

“Five wins, five one-twos – pretty much perfect. Apart from their points tally, what was really impressive was the Silver Arrows’ technical superiority on a track that is widely believed to produce a true picture of the pecking order on the grid due to the characteristics of its layout, and also due to the fact that the circuit is the preferred winter testing ground of Formula 1, when the race eventually comes to Barcelona it highlights the steps in development made by the teams. And it’s in this latter area that Mercedes have really demonstrated their strengths.

“So, is that it then, championship over bar a battle between the two team-mates at the Anglo-German team? I don’t think so as there are still a lot of races to come, but it’s true to say that Mercedes have laid down a strong early marker on both championships.”

 

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