While insisting that his team has "recovered quite a lot of (straight-line) speed", Mattia Binotto admits the competitiveness of Ferrari's SF21 will only be known in Bahrain.
2020 saw Ferrari record its worst season result since 1980, the Maranello outfit impacted by a poor aero package and the after effects of the technical directives that overshadowed the tail-end of 2019.
Speaking at today's team launch, which saw drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz officially presented, Binotto, whilst insisting that many of the issues of 2020 have been addressed, admitted that the team's progress won't be known until the season gets underway.
"Last year the main issue was the speed on the straight line, not only the power, but both power and drag," he said. "We have worked a lot, both on the power unit and on the car aerodynamics to reduce the drag of the car.
"Based on our simulations today, based on what we can see in terms of power output from the dynos, and the drag of the car from the windtunnel, I think that we recovered quite a lot of speed on the straight lines," he continued. "I'm expecting speed not to be such an issue as it was, hopefully we can be competitive but we will only know in Bahrain.
"It is always relative to what the others are doing," he admitted. "Nonetheless, we believe our car is certainly more efficient compared to the one we had last year, and when I say efficient, it is again both from the aero point of view and power point of view."
Referring to his new driver line-up, he added: "I think that for us it's important that both drivers do their maximum, because the sum of the two drivers' points is key for the Constructors' Championship, at the end of the season.
"I'm expecting Carlos to be very fast and competitive this season, as I know that Charles will be, as he's been last year.
"We certainly need a good car to perform better, but I'm expecting from both of them to do well and hopefully to have a greater season that last year.
"To be world champions, first we need to beat the other cars and the other drivers," said the Italian. "Only by the time that eventually we are the fastest car, and we have the fastest drivers on track, we may fight between them. It's really being focused in trying to progress as a team."
"It looks like quite a good step and I think there's been a lot of work here," said Charles Leclerc of the SF21 which will be unveiled on 10 March. "We've been here since the beginning of the season, pushing quite a lot and seeing the improvements of the car.
"For now, it always looks positive on paper but then we need to see where the others have done as a step, and where we are compared to them."
"There's some encouraging signs, there's some encouraging data coming out," added his new teammate, Carlos Sainz. "I'm happy and proud and I have seen good progress, but until we see what are rivals have done it's going to be impossible to know if it's enough or not."
"I do believe our car is better than the car of last year," added Binotto, "but we need as well to be realistic. The gap to the best last year was very important and is not something we can recover in a single winter."
Like its rivals however, son the Italian team will soon switch focus to 2022 and the rules overhaul, which means Leclerc and Sainz will be pretty much stuck with the car they are given as there will be limited development once the season is underway.
"Our focus on 2021 will be developing the 2022 car, that will be the main target," he admitted. "We will not spend much time on the 2021 car during the season, there's always a balance and it's a choice we need to make at some stage.
"2022 is such a big change that there is a minimum quantity of exercise and design that needs to be developed, so most of the effort will be there.
"Last year was a big, big disappointment," he admitted. "We know that we cannot repeat such a bad result. We know that we need to do better in 2021. But I think even more important is our will to win. I'm not saying that we will win, I think we need to be realistic and I think that there are cars that have been very, very strong last year, and with the cars being partially frozen, will be certainly very strong again in 2021.
"But I think our will to win is our commitment, our intention, our focus, being aware that each single detail counts. I think determination will be important and showing progress. That's what I'm expecting. It's a matter of team mentality, driver's mentality, and as team principal no doubt I'm fully aware of the responsibility I've got.
"I don't feel the pressure," he insisted, "I feel the responsibility and the pride. I know that we simply need to do better and that's part of my responsibility."