Ever since its power units were affected by a 2019 technical directive, which clamped down on systems to circumvent FIA fuel sensors, Ferrari has faced an uphill battle to get back on par with Mercedes in terms of engine performance.
Ferrari improved its engines in the off-season, and in the second half of 2021 it rolled out an updated hybrid system on the cars of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, in Russia and Turkey respectively.
After going through the pain of taking a grid penalty for using a fourth engine, both drivers found the upgraded package gave them a tangible performance benefit.
Team boss Binotto believes the latest hybrid improvements from Maranello are a "big step", meaning the gap with Mercedes not as dramatic anymore as it was last year.
"The [additional] power is always available through the straightline, so you get the benefit from it at the start of the straightline and as well at the end," he explained.
"The way we can quantify that; if I look at this weekend, we're running maximum downforce, but we're somehow almost matching the speed of the others.
"Considering last year, how the situation was, it is certainly a big step forward. We still know that there is a gap to the best engine today, but we believe that gap is not so dramatic."
Ferrari's extra horsepower might prove key in the team's effort to beat McLaren for third in the constructors' championship.
After a close contest throughout 2021, which swung both ways depending on the circuit, McLaren has admitted Ferrari now has the quicker car.
Binotto acknowledged that the updated ERS system gives him confidence Ferrari can jump ahead in the following races.
"Generally speaking, in the overall balance of the lap, I think we have been clearly faster this weekend," Binotto explained.
"I think on the paper it was not a circuit which was suiting obviously our car. That's why I'm pleased with the progress I've seen in the last races, certainly the help of the power unit both for qualifying and the race, and that gives me some confidence for the next races."
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