Max Verstappen gets F1 title boost as Ferrari admit goal is ‘not to win championship’

Mattia Binotto has admitted that Ferrari’s goal for the season is “not to win the championship”, despite a strong start to the year.

The Italian team adapted quickest to new car regulations for this season, winning the first race of the year with Charles Leclerc closely followed by Carlos Sainz in second. Leclerc went on to win the third race after finishing second in Saudi Arabia, cementing his and his team’s title credentials.

But since then it is Red Bull who have stolen the initiative, overcoming their early-season reliability issues to win the last four races to take the lead in both championships. Max Verstappen leads Leclerc by nine points in the drivers’ table, while in the constructors’ standings the gap has widened to 36.

Ferrari remain a real threat, though, and would likely have won last time out in Monaco through Leclerc had it not been for a costly pit stop strategy error. Despite that, Binotto says the team’s target has not changed and that the title is not their main priority for the campaign.

“We set our objectives to be competitive in 2022,” he told BBC Sport. “So, our objective is to be competitive, not to win the championship, and it would be completely wrong to turn that into ‘let’s try to win the championship because we are so competitive’.

“Being competitive is one fact – becoming world champion is another level of task. [Saying] that is maybe to take off some pressure from the team, but also, I think it would be wrong as management to change objectives from the ones we gave them.”

Ferrari last won a trophy in 2008 when they took the constructors’ title, and their last driver to become world champion was Kimi Raikkonen in the previous season. They enjoyed their best start to a campaign for a decade this year, but still apparently are not allowing themselves to dream of the glory days once again.

Max Verstappen is the current championship leader ahead of Charles Leclerc

Max Verstappen is the current championship leader ahead of Charles Leclerc

Instead, the aim is to help keep the F1-75 at the top of the class in terms of performance while hoping Leclerc can continue to deliver and Sainz can get his season back on track after two costly DNFs. And Binotto was clear to clarify that, just because titles are not the main objective, it does not mean they are not capable of winning silverware.

“It doesn’t mean we will not do it,” the Italian added. “Maybe we will do it as soon as possible, but we are conscious of the fact it is more than only being competitive. No doubt what we intend to do is to try to open a cycle, become world champion and once, try to stay there. But I think it will take time.

“Our internal mindset is still we need to improve as a team to be capable of winning a championship. It doesn’t mean we will not do it. Maybe we will do it as soon as possible, but we are conscious of the fact that it is more than only being competitive.”

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