Ferrari not surprised with Mercedes surge after swapping focus to 2023

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, on track. Mexico, October 2022. Credit: Alamy
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, on track. Mexico, October 2022. Credit: Alamy

Mattia Binotto isn’t surprised Mercedes have emerged as Red Bull’s strongest rival in the last two races, after all Ferrari have stopped developing their car while Mercedes continue to do so.

Ferrari brought their final upgrades for the F1-75 to Singapore and Japan, the Scuderia tweaking the car’s floor.

They grabbed a double podium in Singapore with Charles Leclerc again spraying the champagne in Japan, a race where Sainz crashed on the opening lap.

One race later, the first after Ferrari made the call to halt development, the Monégasque driver was again on the podium but was beaten by Lewis Hamilton at the United States Grand Prix.

That weekend Mercedes brought a new floor and lighter parts while the Brackley squad ran their much spoken about front wing in Mexico, Hamilton again taking up the role as Max Verstappen’s main challenger.

With Mercedes out-scoring Ferrari two races in a row, the gap in the Constructors’ Championship is down to 40 points..

Binotto is not surprised.

“Mercedes has recently developed its car more aggressively,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “We got out earlier and are concentrated fully on 2023.”

Ferrari are 40 points ahead of Mercedes after what Leclerc billed as their “worst” weekend of the season.

The F1-75 was off the pace in Mexico with Sainz crossing the line in fifth place and Leclerc P6, the latter almost 70 seconds down on race winner Max Verstappen.

Binotto added: “It was important to get both cars to the finish line in a bad race. Of course we can’t rely on that and we have to get back to our old form in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.”

According to the German publication, Ferrari were ‘forced to throttle down the power of the engines’ as the turbocharger could not cope with the high altitude of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

That limited the team’s set-up options, neither Sainz nor Leclerc happy with the car.

“We weren’t comfortable in other areas either and have to ask ourselves what the reasons are,” Binotto added.

But, he says, “Mexico was an outlier” and he’s expecting the team to bounce back in Brazil.

Ferrari aren’t ‘worried’ about Mercedes taking P2

With a total of 103 points still in play in the teams’ standings, Ferrari’s P2 is by no means guaranteed.

But barring an implosion from the Scuderia it’s also not under threat.

There were 67 points separating Ferrari and Mercedes after Japan and now, after one DNF and one “worst” Sunday, there are 40.

Divided by two that’s 20 points per race Mercedes have to out-score Ferrari by, a feature they’ve only achieved once this season although it must be said they did it and did well.

In Ferrari’s only double DNF of this season, Azerbaijan, Mercedes took 38 points off them so it’s not impossible, it’s just improbable because, let’s be frank, at the end of the day Red Bull are pretty much guaranteed maximum points with everyone else picking up the pieces.

It’s no wonder Sainz told Marca after the Mexican GP: “On a normal circuit we are still there, sure not at the level of Red Bull, far from it, but Mercedes going to Brazil and Abu Dhabi does not worry us so much.”

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