Lewis Hamilton has been backed not to finish on the podium in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, with Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto instead claiming that his side and Red Bull will dominate proceedings in the Middle East at the weekend.
Hamilton finished on the podium in 17 from a possible 22 races last season, with two of the no-shows being down to him either retiring or finishing near the bottom of the pile as the result of a collision. Despite the car regulation changes this season, the Brit is still expected to finish in and around the top of the pile by the time the season ends.
But other team principals are concerned for Hamilton, with a number claiming that he won’t even make the podium. And Binotto is the latest in that series, with the Italian claiming that Hamilton won’t be in the top three due to his own team’s good form.
“We are not signing up for second place now. We want to be the best in every race,” Binotto said. “I think we will be competitive from the start. How the proportions are I don’t know.
“Red Bull is very strong, especially Max (Verstappen). Maybe Max will be in front of us, we will drive behind him and only then will the other one (Sergio Perez) come. Last year we were about 25hp behind the competition.
“We tried to calculate that now on the data (from the winter test). For now we are at the same level, maybe a bit better. We are very happy with what we have achieved.”
Ferrari will continue to stick with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz next season after strong outings last time out. They came third in the Constructors’ Championship last season after a string of top six finishes.