Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has brushed off Lewis Hamilton's comments that Ferrari might find themselves "several months ahead" of the competition for the start of F1's new era.
At last week's pre-season test session in Barcelona, Mercedes driver Hamilton singled out Ferrari as a team to watch, with the Scuderia one of the first of F1's established outfits to switch their focus to this year's rules reset.
Ferrari also enjoyed more wind tunnel time compared to the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull in 2021, after their poor 2020 campaign, with F1 now operating a sliding scale for aerodynamic testing, which helps out the worst-performing teams.
Hamilton's comments brushed off by Ferrari
However, when asked about Hamilton's comments, Binotto was quick to turn the tables and suggest that Mercedes will be enjoying a sizeable advantage by the time the F1 paddock arrives in Bahrain for the second test and season opener.
"I'm pretty sure that they will be two or three months ahead of us by the time we will be in Bahrain!" Binotto told Sky Sports, ahead of Mercedes posting the fastest time of the test on the final day of action.
"I think that it's very difficult today to judge the performance and the relative competitiveness between the teams.
"What was important for us was to collect data here and I think we can be somehow satisfied with the amount of laps we did. [Everything] will be analysed back in Maranello."
Looking ahead to the next test, Binotto said: "I heard rumours that our competitors will bring big updates and upgrades."
Ferrari still hopeful of "competitive" return
As for how the F1-75 is performing so far, Binotto expressed cautious optimism, with Ferrari completing more mileage than any other team during a packed first week of testing.
"I think so far the car is behaving well, or it's behaving without any big issues," he said.
"The exercise so far has been done properly. Will that be good enough? We should not forget that last year at the end of the season we were [giving away] at least a second per lap to the best [teams].
"We believe that for us, it will be good somehow to be back to being competitive in 2022. But it's very early days today to judge."
Bahrain will host F1's official pre-season test from 10-12 March, followed by the 2022 season opener a week later.
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