Mattia Binotto says Formula 1 needs to ensure that top teams are sticking with the budget cap rules.
After the opening two grands prix of the new rules era, it is clear that another new title duel is brewing up – this time between Red Bull and Ferrari while Mercedes tries to claw back an early disadvantage.
“These new cars are still early in their development,” former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher told Sky Deutschland.
“I think Ferrari are the furthest along at the moment, but Red Bull is a master at making a car faster over the course of a season.
“Ferrari has to counter that, otherwise it will be difficult with the title. But I think they know that,” said the German.
Part of Ferrari team boss Binotto’s countering of the Red Bull and Mercedes threat is to wave a red flag about how F1 intends to enforce the teams’ $140 million budget limits.
“It will influence the pace of development,” he told Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“I think it’s a key element and my concern is that we need to make sure that we have proper control over that. It may be, let me say, a game-changer in the development fight,” the Italian added.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali agrees that “financial control” is an important role for the FIA, with the Paris-based federation currently “equipping itself to be even more robust in its role as a watchdog”.
Binotto said Ferrari is taking the budget cap provisions very seriously as it charges for its first world championship since 2008.
“Every development will be important, but with the budget cap you can’t spend everything right away,” he said.
The Italian also acknowledged Red Bull and Mercedes’ much more recent practice in developing a car for a title challenge.
“It is true that our competitors are very strong in this area, whereas as Ferrari the last two opportunities we had were in 2017 and 2018, and we lost some ground because of development,” said Binotto.
“Since then, we have improved our tools, the wind tunnel, the methodologies, the process and the simulator. I think that today we are much better prepared than in the past to do the right job also in development.
“We now have a budget cap that will influence the pace of development, and I think that’s a key point. My concern is that we need to make sure we have the right policy on this,” he added.