MARCH 4, 2019
Binotto denies Ferrari clear 2019 favourite
Mattia Binotto has denied that Ferrari is the clear favourite to win the 2019 title.
Former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi told Radio Sportivo: "For sure Mercedes will be very strong, but Ferrari seems stronger."
Crucially, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton also thinks Ferrari has a 5 tenths per lap lead heading into Australia.
"It's nice that Hamilton thinks Ferrari is faster, but I expect a very strong Mercedes in Australia," said Binotto, Ferrari's new team boss.
"It would be completely wrong to believe that we are in the lead."
However, Ferrari is certainly ready for a championship assault, with Binotto already declaring that Sebastian Vettel is number 1 ahead of newcomer Charles Leclerc.
"This was not a decision against Leclerc, but for the benefit of Ferrari," the Italian insisted.
"In my opinion, things should be clear from the beginning so there is less room for misunderstandings or mistakes," Binotto said.
"The two of them are allowed to drive freely. All we are saying is that if the going gets tough, we will depend on the experienced man to be world champion."
He said he would like the 2019 Ferrari to be "faster" and "more reliable", but seemed to confirm the suspicion that it is a nicer car to drive than the Mercedes.
"The car is very well balanced and good in any kind of corner," said Binotto.
In contrast, former F1 driver Heinz Harald Frentzen told Abendzeitung newspaper: "I have heard that Mercedes' problem is understeer".