Binotto says strong Sainz performance in Canada ‘not a surprise’, as he targets pre-summer break fightback against Red Bull
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto believes his driver Carlos Sainz is “gaining confidence” in the team’s 2022 car, after the Spanish racer came home in second place at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix – his fifth podium finish of the season.
Sainz – who has previously admitted to struggling with the new 2022 car – came into the Montreal race weekend off the back of his third DNF of the season in Baku, caused by a hydraulics failure.
Sainz started the Montreal race well from P3 on the grid, quickly overtaking compatriot Fernando Alonso for P2, and was at times the fastest man on the track. But despite his late-race harrying of Max Verstappen failing to yield fruit – the Spaniard’s maiden win in F1 continuing to elude him – Binotto believes that Sainz is getting “faster and faster” behind the wheel of the F1-75.
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“Honestly, it was not a surprise [that Sainz was the fastest man on track],” said Binotto. “If you look at the race sim on Friday, Carlos was very strong already and we were very close to the Red Bulls.
“So, we knew we could fight; how much closer it would have been after Friday, no idea, but we know that our car is competitive. Carlos is gaining confidence with the car, he is driving faster and faster and it’s good to see that… he was certainly as fast, if not slightly faster, than Max.”
Binotto also spoke about the performance of Charles Leclerc, who started the race in P19 after being penalised for making a raft of changes to his power unit. And with Leclerc “limiting the damage” by finishing in fifth, Binotto revealed his hope that the Monegasque can “attack” over the next few races before the summer break, to help Ferrari claw back their 76-point deficit to Red Bull – their rivals having won the last six races on the bounce.
“It was something we decided very soon after Baku [to take the power unit penalty],” said Binotto. “So, it is something he has been aware of for many days, to adjust and prepare for the race weekend, he knew he would be starting from the back of the grid today on the race.
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“So even his Friday, Saturday programme was focussed on the high-fuel runs to make sure he was prepared for the race itself. It is certainly a frustrating situation for a driver… The race would have required a lot of patience, which was certainly the case; you would like certainly to overtake but you cannot because there is a DRS train or because your tyres are worn.
“But finally, limiting the damage, starting from the back, finishing fifth is still a good race result and I know he’s got fresh power units for the next races certainly. We’ve got four races until the summer break – that will be important to him where he can attack, and let’s try to somehow recover some points if we can.”