Ferrari boss fires warning to Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton for 2022 season

Lewis Hamilton refuses to let 2021 season ‘define’ his career

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Max Verstappen was quick enough for second on the grid in today’s race with Lewis Hamilton struggling down in fifth. However, Mattia Binotto has warned Ferrari could have more to come despite Charles Leclerc setting the fastest lap in qualifying yesterday.

Binotto said it could take a “few races” to extract the “maximum potential” of the cars meaning they could soon be even quicker. Leclerc just pipped Verstappen to pole by less than one-tenth of a second in Q3.

His Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz was quick enough for third on the grid, ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez. Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Binotto said: “Expectations were there, we created them. But that’s Ferrari. I think everyone was waiting for us.

“After those difficult seasons, I think we pushed a lot. We worked really hard back at the factory, the team is great and to see at least today we are performing okay.”

Binotto added the season would be “long” but Ferrari wanted “to be part of it”.

He said: “I think today is our best as a car. I think we pushed as much as we could. I think to extract the maximum potential of those cars [wil] still take a few races. Two, three, four races.”

After qualifying on pole, Leclerc said: “It feels good. “The last two years have been incredibly difficult for the team. We were quite hopeful that this new opportunity for us was an opportunity to be back in the front and I think we have worked extremely well as a team to find ourself again in a position to fight for better places.

“I will still stay cautious. I mean the pace is there, but the race is long and anything can happen so I need to stay on it.”

After the session, the seven-time champion warned Ferrari and Red Bull were “in another league” and predicted he would not be in the fight to win the race.

He said: “Those guys ahead of us are in another league so I’m generally happy with where we are. It’s not the front row but we will make improvements and do the best we can tomorrow. Those guys will be going away so we are not in the fight with those.

“My battles are with the guys behind most likely but of course I’ll try to be as fast as I can and get ahead. But their performance is quite ahead of us.”

Mercedes struggled in qualifying with Hamilton good enough for fifth on the grid and George Russell down in ninth.

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After the session, the seven-time champion warned Ferrari and Red Bull were “in another league” and predicted he would not be in the fight to win the race.

He said: “Those guys ahead of us are in another league so I’m generally happy with where we are. It’s not the front row but we will make improvements and do the best we can tomorrow. Those guys will be going away so we are not in the fight with those.

“My battles are with the guys behind most likely but of course I’ll try to be as fast as I can and get ahead. But their performance is quite ahead of us.”

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