Binotto 'optimistic' about Ferrari progress, 'finally' able to count on both drivers

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Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is "optimistic" for the future after a strong first race of 2021 in Bahrain.

The Scuderia emerged in a close battle against McLaren and AlphaTauri for the third-best team. Ultimately, after running third early on, Charles Leclerc would finish sixth, while new teammate Carlos Sainz eighth on his Ferrari debut.

And after the Monegasque had largely been alone in leading the Italian team's charge in 2020, Binotto couldn't help but have a little dig at former driver Sebastian Vettel post-race.

“I’m really happy with the drivers, I’m happy to be able to count on both of them finally," he told Sky Italia.

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“We chose Carlos because we knew that he is strong during the race, he proved that today, he did a very good job with the pace, and then the motivation is important, the wish to grow as a team and not only with the drivers.

“Charles yesterday, after qualifying, thanked Carlos for pushing him to do the best possible lap. So, I’m happy with both of them.

“Knowing that we can count on both of them is really important. The most important thing is to be motivated to keep growing.

“Our opponents today are not Carlos for Charles and Charles for Carlos, but the cars ahead of us. The day when we will be ahead of all the other teams, our drivers will be allowed to fight also with each other.”

This year's SF21 was always expected to be a solid step forward thanks to a new upgraded power unit for Ferrari.

And after being a sitting duck on Bahrain's straights last year, Binotto was also satisfied by the progress made.

“Now if I look at the data, I think at least on the straight, the speed is alright. There does not seem to be such a disadvantage as it was last year.

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“We know it’s not only power, but it’s also the drag of the car as well, as we often said last year. But let me say that both contributed to improving our speed on the straights.

“Today we feel it is not any more a disadvantage.

“We are working in the right direction with the right tools, which makes me optimistic for the future," the Ferrari chief added.

“The car is better than last year, there is no doubt about that. The aerodynamics are certainly better, we can see that in the correlation, and we have also improved the power unit within the limits of what was possible.”

Heading into this year, however, Ferrari made it clear almost all of their resources would go on the new regulations for next year, and that remains the case.

“Today was just the first race, they will understand where to improve [the car]," Binotto said.

“In this season we will not develop the car a lot because we’re already focused on 2022. We will bring some upgrades, but it’s important they work and they lead the car in the right direction.”