Ferrari opened the 2022 season with a victory for the first time since 2018 as Charles Leclerc won from pole position ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc didn’t have it all his own way as he was put under immense pressure by reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen after the first round of pit stops.

Reflecting on the first round in Bahrain, Binotto admitted it will take four to five races to assess whether Ferrari is a true title contender.

“At first I think the others are very very strong and proved to be strong in the qualification, it was really a matter of pace,” Binotto said on Sunday in Bahrain. “I think today they could have been stronger, but maybe there are some reliability issues that are not perfect on their car from what we understand from the radio communications. 

“But they would have been very fast otherwise. If you look at the stint of Max on used tyres, he was keeping up with the pace of Charles. We should not forget that they are the world champions and the favourites and what we must try to do is do our best. 

“Jeddah in a week’s time could be a completely different picture and I think we need to wait, as I always said, four or five races before we can assess in full. To answer your question, I would wait four or five races.”

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With it still being early days for this generation of F1 cars, Binotto is confident there’s more to come from his team and his drivers.

“It’s a good starting point, no doubt,” Binotto added. “The one-two was not what we were expecting or even what we were hoping for, but it’s what we got. I think as we said, Charles did a fantastic race and for Carlos it was a bit more of a difficult weekend for him. But overall we should not forget there has only been six days of testing, so three days per driver, and trying to understand and learn and adapt to the car, in that respect, there is still much to learn. 

“This weekend has been very useful in that respect. I’m pretty sure both drivers will have more opportunities after free practice, quali and the race to try to learn and understand the car we have got now because we have got plenty more data as well. 

“I’m pretty sure at the next race we start to exploit more of the car and there is still potential in the car, certainly, and I think Carlos is a good example of there being more potential to extract.”