After two surprise, but hard-fought triumphs, Scuderia Ferrari is desperate to cure the balance issues of its 2018 challenger and close in on the field-leading and pace-setting Mercedes team.
Ferrari is adamant to make inroads with is innovative 2018 car equipped with agressively sculpted sidpods and tweaked power unit and cooling system to catch its two rivals Red Bull and Mercedes in terms of outright pace.
On Friday, the Italian team has been conducting work aimed for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, and it also tasked Sebastian Vettel with trying out Ferrari’s medium-downforce rear wing specification, developed for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix which will be the next round of the 2018 season.
The latest wing is equipped with two supporting pillars and has a different, spoon-like, highly curved profile. The new version is supposed to produce less drag which is a very important criterium of optimizing the aerodynamic package for the never-ending straightw of the Baku track. The Chinese track was ideal for trying out the new wing as it has long straights and two 270-degree corners.
As for today’s two test sessions, the Ferrari pair had different views. Kimi Räikkönen was happier with the base line setup of the SF71-H and indicated his strong pace could have been even better because it was slightly affected by traffic on his hot lap and by the weather during his long run simulations.
“It was a pretty good Friday”, said Kimi “and I’m quite happy with the feeling of the car. I think we have a pretty good base line to start from, it looks pretty good. The car has been quite straightforward since the beginning, so it easy to fine tune things. On one lap we had some traffic, I’m sure we could have gone faster.”
„In the long run we never really got a proper idea due to the conditions: it started to rain and we had limited running, so it’s a bit tricky to know where we are. Today it was close, but then tomorrow who knows what the weather will be; things can change a lot from one day to the next,” said the Finn.
Sebastian Vettel was less delighted with the behaviour of his car, but said that the changes made between the two Friday sessions brought a positive shift in the balance. The German seems to continue to suffer to find the sweet spot with the setup of the 2018 car despite his two victories in the opening two races.
„I think at this track it is very important to find the right feeling with the car and its setup. The track is long and the tires struggle here. But, overall, I think we are quite close. However, the car is not yet where I want it to be.”
„So, we are still looking at how we can improve. I think the SF71H has the pace, but you need to make sure it works. Today it’s been a mixed day and I think in the afternoon it was a bit better and I was a little bit happier. Hopefully tomorrow I’m going to be very happy!”