Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says it would be “foolish” to dismiss Ferrari’s potential in Formula 1 this season, in spite of its subdued test pace.
Ferrari spent much of testing away from the top of the timesheets, though Charles Leclerc posted a front-running lap on C5 tyres on the final day, providing a glimpse of the SF1000’s speed.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has played down the team’s chances of taking victory in Australia, as it attempts to unearth the right balance between downforce and drag.
But Horner reckons Ferrari will be firmly in the mix at the front of the pack when the season gets underway.
“That is always the dangerous thing about pre-season testing, trying to draw too many conclusions,” Horner said, speaking on the final day of running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
“Ferrari look understated at the last test but they are starting to wind it up and I think it would be foolish to underestimate them going to Melbourne.
“Mercedes are the reigning six-time World Champions and very much the favourites.
“Their form has always looked strong here and you want to have your issues in testing not when you are racing so winter testing can sometimes be a little deceptive but I think it will be the same teams fighting at the sharp end of the grid this year.”
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen also dismissed the notion of reading too much into the results of testing.
“I have done this six times now and testing doesn’t give you anything in terms of real lap times as Melbourne is so different so I prefer to wait and see what happens in Melbourne,” he said.
“Not only in Melbourne as it can be a funny GP where things can go really well or not.
“You need a few GPs to get a good read of it. I just don’t focus on it too much here.
“The most important thing for us here is just to test all different kind of things on the car.”