Binotto: Lots of reasons why we have to smile

Despite Ferrari’s disastrous 2022 French Grand Prix, Mattia Binotto says his team has plenty to smile about, hinting at the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix.

Ferrari have been looking for silver linings after Sunday’s French Grand Prix left them licking self-inflicted wounds, with fans fearing Formula 1’s oldest and most glamorous team have once again spoiled their title chances.

Charles Leclerc remained Max Verstappen’s closest challenger but the Ferrari driver is now 63 points behind rival Red Bull, with 10 races to go, thanks to an error on his part.

If Verstappen triumphs in Hungary next weekend, he will enter the August break at least 70 points clear, meaning even winning all the remaining races might not be enough for Leclerc.

It would take a turnaround of seismic proportions, and Ferrari has a record in recent years of flattering to deceiving, but team boss Mattia Binotto was more defiant than discouraged.

Binotto tries to find positives

“It was a good weekend in terms of pace, the car proved to be very competitive,” he told reporters at Le Castellet.

“Charles got pole, he was leading the race. I think we had an advantage over Red Bull in terms of tire degradation… I think we come out of here confident in our package, our riders’ ability and our speed.

Binotto singled out Hungary as another hot race where Ferrari, which raced Carlos Sainz from 19th to fifth in France, expects to be strong.

“There are many reasons why we should smile. Our goal should not be victory but a one-two,” he said.

“There’s no reason not to win 10 races by the end. I like to be positive, stay optimistic. Could something happen to Max and Red Bull? It’s happened to them before, like it did to us. arrived.

“But I’m not counting on it. I think we have to focus on ourselves and do our best,” he added.

Verstappen has won seven races this season to three for Leclerc, while Red Bull has won eight to four for Ferrari. Leclerc experienced three retirements, while leading, to that of Verstappen.

Ferrari have looked strategically vulnerable and Leclerc is increasingly facing questions over whether he is too error-prone to back a championship bid.

The Monegasque was quick to blame himself, saying his mistakes in two races – Imola and France – accounted for 32 points of the deficit.

Leclerc’s mistakes happen when driving on the limit

Ferrari, who last won a title in 2008, also let him and Sainz down with mechanical breakdowns and a questionable strategy.

“It’s a bit of an unfair judgment,” Binotto said when asked about Leclerc’s mistakes. “I think it can happen when you’re driving on the limit…there’s definitely no reason to blame it.

“We have always seen that Charles reacts very strong and well when he makes mistakes and I’m pretty sure he will come back to Hungary stronger and hungrier,” he explained.

Verstappen, the defending champion, has had his share of crashes in the past but does very little now and also knows how to play the long game, when to attack and when to bide his time.

“These mistakes are easy to make,” said the Dutchman. “I feel sorry for him of course, it’s not nice. He knows that. We still have a lot of races to go and there will be some tough weekends for us as well.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin)

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