Ahead of the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel have revealed that their 2020 car has no particular weaknesses, but it is lacking in all areas.
After dominating the field in terms of straight-line speed in 2019, Ferrari has re-designed its entire car concept in order to increase the downforce level of its F1 machine. When the field travelled to Barcelona for the pre-season testing, the Scuderia quickly realized that its car did not deliver the results that the team expected based on the factory data.
Formula One brought forward and extended the sport’s traditional summer shutdown to 63 days, meaning that teams got hardly any chance of working on their cars following the disrupted Australian Grand Prix. Ferrari, therefore, travelled to the Red Bull Ring with almost the same configuration it brought to Melboure for the original season-opener.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel did not híde his belief that his 2020 race car is lacking in all areas and rules out any chance of fighting with the field-leading Mercedes outfit.
"We didn't look much at Renault, Racing Point and McLaren, so it is always difficult to predict what fuel loads people were running. I think we will see Saturday. I think we can say Mercedes seems to be fastest, Red Bull was a bit unclear, I don't think they showed everything, but hope we can be very similar.
Vettel failed to pinpoint an area Ferrari is particularly lacking in, but he said that both downforce and straight-line speed were problems when comparing the SF1000’s performance to the pace of their rivals.
"I think we had a decent day. We didn’t have any trouble with the cars. It was good for us all to be back at the track and it was good to see that the team got up to speed fairly quickly and had no problems running through all the procedures. In terms of speed and competitiveness, it was an interesting day. I think we’ve seen that we are not at the top, that we are not the favourites.
"Right now [we don't have the pace to fight] but it is up to us to develop and work to make the car faster, I think we are lacking overall grip and downforce compared to others, lacking a bit down the straights, so it is a mix of all these things."
During the pre-season testing, the general feeling was that the SF1000 has a nice balance, but it does not have the necessary speed. According to Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc, the Scuderia’s car lacks cornering grip which needs to be improved as soon as possible if Ferrari wants to fight for podium places in 2020.
“It felt good to be back in the car but on the other hand it’s not a great day for us, what we expected, a lot of cars are very close, exciting to see on one hand but on the other hand we’d like to be fighting a bit more up in the standings. We need to work quite hard for tomorrow and see how we go.
“The balance is not that bad, it’s not completely out of place for now so we need to work quite hard to catch up as overall performance. The speed in the corner we seem to lose compared to the others, then the balance feels quite good but the overall grip of the car, I guess it is not only one thing it is also the full package we need to upgrade.”
Speaking to Autosport, Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto has revealed that his outfit recognized pretty early on during the winter testing that the aerodynamic package of the SF1000 did not work as expected. The Swiss-Italian explained the issues with correlation problems, meaning that the on-track performances did not match the computer data.
"I think we realised that, from the aero point of view mainly, there were some miscorrelations.
"Eventually I think we [realised we] pushed a lot our project, on trying to seek a lot of downforce to lift up what was our situation last year in terms of weaknesses. I think that eventually whatever we developed was too fragile in terms of aero robustness when being on track,” Binotto said.