Max Verstappen make subtle at Lewis Hamilton
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Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto thinks Red Bull will cause his team more problems than Mercedes will this year as the Scuderia battle for their first F1 title since 2008. Ferrari have been in scintillating form since the new season began in March.
The Scuderia have enjoyed a few spells of dominance over the years and won eight team titles between 1999 and 2008. But they have been lagging behind in recent years and have failed to challenge for honours.
Things changed during the winter break, however, after teams were forced to redesign their cars amid a whole host of regulation changes. Ferrari appear to have got their upgrades right and have dictated proceedings in the early stages of the season. The Italian team currently top the Constructors’ Championship standings, while Charles Leclerc has taken charge in the Drivers’ Standings.
Mercedes are second in the team standings, despite some lacklustre performances, while Red Bull are third after suffering with power issues. But Binotto sees the Austrian team as Ferrari’s main rivals.
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“Red Bull – they have a superior development capacity,” the 52-year-old replied when asked which team he feared the most earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Italian admits he will only be happy if Ferrari win on all fronts this year. “The Constructors’ Championship represents the solidity of a team,” he continued. “To understand, a Drivers’ title would be extraordinary – but I think our goal goes further.”
Leclerc has been a formidable force in F1 this season and has already built an impressive 34-point lead over Mercedes ace George Russell at the top of the standings. The Monegasque won the season-opener in Bahrain, before narrowly missing out to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia. And Leclerc tasted victory for a second time in Australia last time out.
His team-mate Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, has finished with two podium places. And Binotto insists both his drivers will be given the opportunity to be successful this year.
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“They both have the right to express themselves at their best,” he added. “At this stage there is no need for team orders. And without the mistake in Melbourne, Carlos would be second. And if Carlos wins, he takes points away from Verstappen, the real rival.”
The F1 season continues in Italy this weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Verstappen is set to start the Sprint session on pole position after beating Leclerc to top spot in Friday’s qualifying session. Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Russell, meanwhile, failed to make it to Q3.
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