Verstappen won the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday after also triumphing at Imola two weeks ago. It’s a clear indication that Red Bull has taken the lead in the development battle. Ferrari had a clear advantage over the other teams in the first phase of the season. The team hasn’t yet thought of any major updates to improve the car, but believes it has to look longer term.
It all has to do with the budget cap, which has been set at $140 million for this year. Binotto thinks Red Bull were aggressive with the development budget in the early stages of the season. In theory, the team should pay the price for that at the end of this season, as Adrian Newey pointed out earlier this year. It definitely explains the turnaround in speed between the two teams, according to Binotto, but reckons Red Bull’s lead could dwindle again if Ferrari come up with novelties.
“It’s true that Red Bull have improved the car quite a bit since the start of the season, they’ve come up with updates,” said Binotto. “If you look at the last two races they may have gained a few tenths a lap ahead of us. I have no doubt that we also need to develop updates to keep up with this pace. I hope, also because we are dealing with the upper budget limit, that Red Bull will stop developing at some point. Otherwise I don’t understand how they can do it.”
Ferrari will develop the first major package to improve the F1-75 during the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull has already made many of these changes at Imola. It immediately becomes a key indicator, says Binotto. “In the upcoming races it will be our turn to develop the car as much as possible, we will come with updates,” he admits. “It’s no surprise that we’re coming to Barcelona with a very important package for us. As always, we’re trying to bring a big package, if it works as expected we can close our gap with Red Bull again.”
“We can’t come up with something new for every race”
Ferrari waited five races before presenting the first real developments. It’s a sign that the team is very selective about what is done for the new car. According to Binotto, this is due to the financial impact that the budget cap has on teams’ freedoms. “We don’t have the money to provide updates for every race,” he says. “It’s that simple. Not out of ignorance, but because of the budget ceiling. We have to focus on the things that we find most useful and where we can spend the budget.”
Asked about the action plan for the rest of the season, the Italian team boss added: “We are not making any statements about what we will do.”