Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto believes it would've been "difficult" for Carlos Sainz to pass Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The team took advantage of a late Safety Car to pit Sainz for a set of used Soft tyres, which put him behind Sergio Perez at the restart.
Given Perez was on Mediums that were several laps older, it meant that he was a lot slower at the restart and resulted in him dropping down from P3 to P7 by the chequered flag.
Even though it only took Sainz three laps to get past him, he was ultimately not able to keep up with the pace of Mercedes after using up his fresher tyres to pass Perez.
Binotto believes that while Sainz could have been in the fight, it would have been more difficult to overtake both Mercedes with less than 10 laps to go.
"I think the Mercedes was very fast and certainly [Carlos] could have been in the fight," he told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"It wouldn't be difficult to overtake Perez, it would have been even more difficult to overtake Mercedes.
"So by not having Perez [in front] he would have been closer, we would've been in the fight."
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'Not surprising' that Mercedes have challenged for a win
Binotto said that it is 'not surprising' that Mercedes has been in the hunt for a win in the last few races, given their recent form.
After Mercedes revealed that its tyre choices made weeks in advance forced them to choose unfavourable strategies, Binotto says if they made the right choices they could've won in Austin or Mexico.
He added: "It's not surprising because if I look at the last races, maybe with a different tyre choice they would already have won races.
"I think they simply didn't win because they missed the right choice on tyres.
"They have been the fastest cars in the race, or in the last few races, and that is not surprising coming to Brazil.
"They brought a new aero package in Austin which has worked quite well, and they have capitalised on it."
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