Scuderia Ferrari reached the goal it had set itself for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix Sprint, with Carlos Sainz looking to make up as many places as possible to mitigate the damage of the five place grid penalty he takes for today’s Brazilian Grand Prix, after his engine change, while Charles Leclerc had to come back from tenth, targeting for a place on the front three rows for Sunday’s main event race at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, better known as Interlagos.
Howver, despite battling early for the title with Red Bull in the 2022 Formula 1 season, Scuderia Ferrari is apparently now also falling behind the late-charging Mercedes. After the Mexico City Grand Prix, where the Silver Arrows were clearly faster than the F1-75 cars for the first time this year, the Brazilian Sprint event showed that the race at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez was in fact not an one-off and that Mercedes has completely reduced the gap to the Italian side: George Russell comfortably won the Interlagos Sprint even after overtaking the Red Bull RB18 of Max Verstappen, while Carlos Sainz finished second but had to defend against a charging Lewis Hamilton, who at teams seemed to have a better race pace than the Spaniard, but without being able to successfully overtake the Spanish driver’s F1-75 car.
Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted that the situation can be explained by the lack of updates on the Maranello team’s car in this final part of the 2022 Formula 1 season, as opposed to Mercedes, who continued to develop and invest in the improvement of its W13 car, with the goal of better understanding its behaviour
“Mercedes is very strong,” Mattia Binotto told Sky Italia from Maranello, as the Ferrari boss was not present at Interlagos with the goal of supervising the Maranello team’s development of the 2023 Formula 1 car – “But it doesn’t surprise because we’ve already been focused on developing the 2023 car for some time while they’ve brought updates to both the United States and Mexico. So somehow, I’m not too concerned by the rate of development, because I know when we stopped developing [our own car]. I think next year it won’t be a two-way battle for the world championship,” Mattia Binotto added at the end of the Brazil Sprint event.
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“Certainly, if I look at the last races, it has not always been great. But in Singapore, I think we [were] very competitive. The one after which was Japan, in the wet. Yes, we were not as fast as Max, but it was not a drama, and certainly not in the [qualifying]. In Austin, again, I think that in the qualy we were competitive, but not as much as we would have expected in the race. I think [in Mexico], it’s [been] a lot worse. I don’t think it’s the same trend, because Singapore [was] competitive, Japan [was] not too bad, USA [had] good qualy. I’m hoping that at least that’s not a trend, but it’s a [one-off] weekend for us. The hope is first [to] try to analyse what’s going on and what has been the the main issues here in Mexico. [Then we will] try to be back [to being] competitive for the last two races, including Sao Paulo.”
When asked about the criticism from several media pundits following Friday’s mistake in qualifying, when the Maranello team sent Charles Leclerc out on intermediate tyres despite the dry track, the Ferrari boss concluded: “A lot has been said. Everyone is always ready to criticise.”
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