Ferrari target 'benchmark' Mercedes as they bid to raise game in F1 2020
Scuderia "improving" but not yet on consistent Mercedes-beating level, says team boss Binotto
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 12/11/19 9:17am
Ferrari admit they must raise their game across the board if they are to end the Mercedes title-winning juggernaut in F1 2020.
Mercedes have surpassed Ferrari's record of five successive world championship doubles this year, with the latter's title drought now stretching to 11 seasons.
Ferrari's title challenge failed to materialise this year, although their results have been better since the summer break with six poles and three wins.
Nonetheless, with Mercedes still winning the last four events and appearing as strong as ever, Mattia Binotto is under no illusions about the challenge facing his team heading towards the winter.
"They are a very, very strong team and they have proved it in the last years," said Binotto. "The level of competition is very high.
"Well done to them, to beat them is difficult. It's not only pure performance, it's reliability, it's mentality, it's strategy, it's pit stops, it's all what you may have for an entire race weekend.
"So we know exactly what our tasks [are]. We've got a benchmark. We are improving ourselves, we have improved all through the season, but we're not yet where we should be."
Why were Ferrari off the pace in Austin?
Ferrari had finished on the podium in 13 consecutive races before the US GP a fortnight ago, but Austin race-day proved one of their weakest of the season, after Sebastian Vettel retired early on and Charles Leclerc finished 52 seconds behind Mercedes in fourth.
But Ferrari are adamant that the hitherto supereme straight-line performance of their car in Austin was not hindered, as rivals have infered, by the technical directive concerning fuel-flow meters issued over the race weekend.
"It's true that we were not gaining on the straight as much as past races but it's true as well that I think we matched our competitors on cornering, at least at times in qualy," said Binotto.
"The trade off between grip-limited and power-limited has been moved this weekend as a test on our side. As simple as that.
"First, we were competitive in qualifying, and now there is something in the race to understand, and we need to understand what's best for the next races in terms of the trade-off."