RACING

Binotto calls Baku DNFs ‘worrying’ as Ferrari fall 80 points behind Red Bull

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After a strong start to the season, things haven’t quite gone to plan for Ferrari lately, with Charles Leclerc suffering two power unit-related DNFs in the last three races, while Carlos Sainz hasn’t also failed to finish in Azerbaijan after a hydraulic problem. . And team boss Mattia Binotto admitted that as well as the disappointment of a double DNF on the streets of Baku, continuing reliability issues are “a concern” with both championships on the line.

Ferrari led the constructors’ championship until Spain, when they were overhauled by a resurgent Red Bull team, who appear to have overcome their own early-season reliability issues. But while the Bulls have won five in a row, the Ferrari power unit is proving temperamental, with DNFs not only for prancing horses but also for their client teams in Baku.

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READ MORE: ‘It hurts’ – Leclerc ‘beyond frustrated’ as Ferrari pair lament Ferrari double retirement in Baku

“Reliability is always a factor, a key factor in the [championship] battle with performance,” Binotto told the media in Baku. “I think as a team we certainly worked a lot last winter to develop the car. We have proven that we are not completely reliable yet, there is still work to be done.

“But since I think we weren’t euphoric at the start of the season, we won’t be devastated now; the team will remain focused, working hard to try to resolve these issues to make us stronger for the future.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2022: Race leader Leclerc retires after engine failure

Binotto would not be drawn to early indications of what had happened to Leclerc’s power unit, or whether the stoppage was linked to the Spanish Grand Prix issue that caused the Monegasque driver to retire from the lead in that race. . He did, however, confirm that Sainz’s hydraulic problem was unrelated and reiterated his team’s commitment to spare no effort in their search for a more reliable set.

“We will take some time to analyze, understand and maybe some of these [issues] are the same as past events, maybe not. I do not know yet.

“We definitely have to fix the problem, strengthen our powertrain for the future… It’s very early right now, the engines and powertrains will be back in Maranello, we will analyze and investigate. I’m sure we will find, in team, solution This team has proven its ability to solve problems.

READ MORE: Bad luck ‘balanced out’ in title fight, claims Verstappen, as Perez says ‘miscommunication’ cost him in Baku


Sainz is only fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, under Mercedes’ George Russell

As for the customer teams, on a day when Zhou Guanyu retired for Alfa Romeo for the third time in four races, Kevin Magnussen also pulled up in the Ferrari-powered Haas with what looked like a power unit problem. On paper, four potential issues seem problematic, but the silver lining is that it gives Binotto and his team more data to fall back on.

“I think we have to analyze these [DNFs], I think Zhou’s may not be related to our supply components but again something to look at. Overall, whatever happens there, it’s always useful… That’s why we provide customer teams; not for business – it’s not great for the economy – it’s more for technical feedback.

“So what is happening is certainly helpful and we will take as much time to analyze these components as we take for those fitted to the red cars.”

MONDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: Would Leclerc have triumphed in Baku without his 20 DNF lap?

Ferrari lead Red Bull by 80 points in the constructors’ championship after eight rounds, while Charles Leclerc has now fallen behind Sergio Perez in third place in the drivers’ championship, and is one race win behind leader Max Verstappen.

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