Ferrari needs another three or four races to fully understand the “true potential” of its 2021 Formula 1 car, according to team principal Mattia Binotto.

The Italian outfit was left encouraged by its start to the 2021 season as it claimed a double points haul in Bahrain, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finishing sixth and eighth respectively as Ferrari looks to bounce back from its worst F1 season for four decades.

Ferrari is convinced its SF21 is a clear improvement on its 2020 predecessor, but Binotto stressed it will take a number of races to determine where the team stands in this year’s pecking order.

“I think it’s the gap that we are still missing to the top competitors, which in the race was still big. So it’s still a long way [to the podium],” explained Binotto.

“But it will depend as well track-to-track. We know that we will not work much on the development of that car because we are all focused on the 2022 in terms of design and development back at Maranello.

“The drivers, they’re starting to learn the car, we’re starting to know what the limitations of the car are and eventually we may address them or we may improve it.

“So I think the next three or four races will first indicate what is the true performance and potential of our car compared to the others, so we will wait for them before having a judgement.”

Despite the progress Ferrari has made from last year - including a step forward with its brand new power unit - Binotto accepts there is still a lot of work to be done to get the team back to where it wants to be.

“I would say that we are lacking in all the areas,” Binotto admitted. “I think we are still lacking on the engine, less than before certainly so the gap has closed and I think we are converging.

“Hopefully by next year, when we will again have a new power unit, we may catch up or have a benchmark for the others. I think on the aero as well – medium and high-speed downforce – I think it’s an entire package again. But now the differences are closer and closer.

“More important is I think we are working in the right direction with the right tools and that will make us stronger in the future.”

 

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