Engine queries a ploy to 'pressure' Ferrari, says Binotto

Mattia Binotto has accused other teams of attempting to pressurise and “distract” Ferrari during the 2019 season with their constant queries about just where the Scuderia’s new-found extreme power on straights came from.

Ferrari started the season in poor form with Mercedes opening up a healthy lead in the constructors’ championship, only for them to improve significantly after the summer break with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finally winning races.

The sudden change in performance left others, namely Red Bull, curious as to the legality of their power unit, with an FIA investigation coming soon after,

Binotto thinks that nobody actually believed Ferrari were cheating in any way, however.

“I’m not sure they really doubted us,” the team principal told Auto Motor und Sport.

“They probably used the circumstance to put pressure on us. Pressure distracts. It is part of the game of Formula 1 to unsettle the opponent.

“Our business isn’t just about a sporting and technical competition. Anything that harms the opponent is good to use.”

Before the United States Grand Prix, the FIA released their first technical directive of the season outlining the specifications for engines, and it was after this that Ferrari’s performance dropped again, leading to inevitable speculation that they were doing something they shouldn’t be.

But Binotto insists this was not the case.

“They drew the wrong conclusions,” he said.

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“We didn’t change the operating conditions of the engines. In order to generate more downforce, the increased the drag. Therefore, we were a bit faster in the corners, but slower on the straights.”

Rivals suggested that, at one point, Ferrari were enjoying a 50 horsepower advantage over everyone else, but, again, Binotto claims this is inaccurate.

“The truth is far from this value,” he added. “We assume a maximum of 20 bhp, which is still a respectable number.

“At a time when the engine performance is converging, 20 bhp are a big advantage which helps you in qualifying and in the race.

“I am proud of this development. I can still remember the first hybrid year in 2014. The gap to Mercedes was huge – it was over 80 bhp!

“We have made tremendous efforts at the factory in Maranello to fill this gap. I have to say that we have done a great job in this field.”