May 9 (GMM) Ferrari admits it has to up its game – but is hoping Red Bull is blowing its development budget for 2022 too early.
“Max was faster, like he was at Imola,” Miami pole sitter Charles Leclerc said after being beaten by reigning world champion Max Verstappen on Sunday.
“For two races now, the Red Bull has been more consistent than us with the medium tyres. I spoke about it with Carlos (Sainz) and it’s the case with both cars.
“In qualifying we are good when the tyres are new but when they wear, we are not as good as Red Bull.
“We have to look at that for the next races,” Leclerc insisted.
Laurent Mekies, Ferrari’s deputy boss, says straightline speed is another problem.
“We have seen several times this year that we are inferior to them in speed on the straights,” he said in Miami.
Red Bull made a clear step forward with several recent car developments, which according to Dr Helmut Marko were timely.
“After Australia we were more than 40 points behind, and now it’s 19. But it will remain a fight between Max and Leclerc,” he said.
The team’s Austrian official, however, insists Red Bull and Ferrari are “on an equal footing”.
“Leclerc and Max are in a league of their own,” he said. “Max drives flawlessly, while Leclerc makes small mistakes. That’s the decisive factor.
“But we won’t win every race. It’s going to be close.”
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto hopes Red Bull’s latest progress is a result of the energy drink owned team pushing hard with car development early in 2022.
“In the last two races Red Bull have been faster by a couple of tenths,” he told Sky Italia.
“We have to develop and work now, but we hope Red Bull has spent a lot already. Let’s hope they have less money than us.
“We will have the first updates only in Barcelona, so at some point due to the budget limits they will have to stop improving while we still have funds,” added Binotto.
If Miami GP winner Max Verstappen has a concern, it’s that the kind of reliability problems he suffered in practice could keep costing him points.
“As you can see, the car is quick,” said the Dutchman. “We just have to make sure we are more reliable and more on top of things.”