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Binotto predicts close F1 fight as Ferrari set out driver plan

Ferrari head into the new season with Formula 1's "nicest" car, according to team boss Mattia Binotto, amid speculation from the likes of Lewis Hamilton that it could be a race-winner.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is confident in the design direction that his team have taken with their F1-75, and has vowed to let both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz fight it out as equals this season. The Italian team will race in Bahrain this weekend with a car that looks very different to both the Mercedes W13 and the Red Bull RB18. Mercedes arrived for last week's testing at the Bahrain International Circuit with a vacuum-packed 'zero-pod' design, while Red Bull trialled regular upgrades, leaving fans guessing as to how their challenger could look for the opening race. Ferrari, meanwhile, have designed a car armed with broad, muscly sidepods and cooling inlets bigger than their direct championship rivals. The F1-75 has appeared consistent throughout testing, with the Italian outfit having vowed to learn and improve on their own concept, rather than mix and match upgrade parts during the Barcelona and Bahrain tests.

Binotto certain F1 fight will be close

Binotto is proud of the car that Ferrari have built ahead of this weekend's 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, and feels confident about the route that the team have taken. "Mercedes have got their own style but we've got as well our own style, which I like," Binotto told media including RacingNews365.com . "I think that our car is certainly nice, the nicest. "It's great to see so many differences and, maybe, as we hoped, we can have similar overall performance. It would be great for F1 and the fans to see different cars but competing on a very similar level. "So, I think yes, if you look at the data from testing it is very difficult to judge, but I'm pretty sure we'll all be very close."

Binotto: We have no number one driver for 2022

Over the course of the 2021 season - their first together as teammates - Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc proved to be a close match. Sainz's strong end to the year, ending with a podium in Abu Dhabi, saw him finish higher in the championship standings, but Leclerc's consistent performances meant he lagged only 5.5 points behind. Despite Leclerc boasting the longer contract, the team maintain that there is no number one driver and that, if the pair are presented with a car that can win the title, they will be free to battle it out. "We didn't point to any number one or number two last year, and we will not do it this year," Binotto has made clear. "They've both got an equal opportunity and I hope that both of them can have a good championship."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix