Briatore skeptical over Ferrari podium chances

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Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore says Ferrari has improved compared to last season but believes the Scuderia's drivers will be hard-pressed to snatch a podium this year.

The Italian outfit enjoyed a productive start to its 2021 campaign, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finishing respectively 6th and 8th in Bahrain.

The result, coupled with the pair's performance in qualifying, is an early indication that Ferrari have made a step forward this season thanks to the hard work conducted at Maranello over the past months by both its chassis and engine departments.

However, Briatore, who remains a keen observer of Formula 1's affairs, doubts whether Ferrari's progress is good enough to deliver a podium to either one of its talented drivers.

"Ferrari will challenge, but it will be difficult for them to make the podium if all the cars finish," Briatore told Italian media website

"They will fight to be the third best team on the grid. There will be Mercedes, Red Bull and then Ferrari, which has taken a step forward compared to last year.

"Ferrari still has room to improve. They have two great drivers with Sainz and Leclerc who both did a good job, nothing to say, but they are still limited by the car."

Unsurprisingly, the former Benetton and Renault team boss sees a title showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

"The title will be fought between Verstappen and Hamilton," headed. "It was a great Grand Prix [in Bahrain] but I think the Dutchman can. Red Bull took too long to call him in for the tyre change, but the car is very performing.

"There will be a dominance in the GPs by Mercedes, but Red Bull can certainly compete for the championship given Verstappen's performance ".

Briatore also offered his assessment on the performance of his protégé Fernando Alonso, for whom 2021 will be a transition year ahead of a hoped title challenge with Alpine in 2022.

"I was on the phone with him a little while ago," he said "He was disappointed even though he knew that Renault's position was this.

"They have to bet everything on next year, but he also had the misfortune of a piece of plastic entering the brake duct and knocking him, but Alonso's qualifying position was higher than the value of the car.

"I believe that Renault-Alpine will be between 12th and 15th position this year, we hope everyone will concentrate on next year to have a better car that Alonso deserves."

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