Worse than expected – Ferrari

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Following a disappointing qualifying session for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto has admitted that his outfit currently finds itself in a very difficult situation.

After a complete revamp to its aerodynamic configuration for its 2020 F1 car, Ferrari”s performances failed to live up to its expectations during pre-season testing. The fabled Italian outfit found out early in February at Barcelona that its car does not deliver the results it expected.

Despite the delay to the start of the season due to the coronavirus outbreak, teams’ hands were tied after the FIA brought forward and extended the summer factory shutdown to 63 days. Although Ferrari travelled to the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix with low expectations, today’s qualifying results showed that Ferrari’s SF1000 might be behind not just Mercedes and Red Bull, but also behind Racing Point, Renault and McLaren.

Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto has confessed that his outfit was taken by surprise by how uncompetitive the SF1000 has proved so far in the Austrian Grand Prix.

"There’s no point denying that was a disappointing qualifying session. We knew the start of the season would be difficult for us and today’s result certainly confirmed that to be the case, even more so than we had expected.”

„We have to analyse very carefully every aspect of our performance and compare it to the opposition, trying to understand why there is this gap. Now, we will prepare as well as possible for tomorrow’s race, which will be tough with plenty of unknown factors, more so than usual, it being the first of this strange season.

„We will carry out our tasks to the best of our ability, trying to get everything out of the package we have here. It's pointless to predict where we might finish and we must just try and score as many points as possible,” he concluded.

Despite having been relatively pleased with the balance of the SF1000, Sebastian Vettel said that the car produced too much understeer in the all-important qualifying session.

"I didn't feel so confident with the car towards the end of the session, but the race is tomorrow and that’s the part of the weekend we look forward to the most. So, we will see what we can learn from today to improve for tomorrow. Our car was not quick enough and the balance was not ideal. I think we were losing a bit on the straights with too much drag, but in some corners we are very competitive.”

Although Vettel was disappointed after failing to secure a place inside the top ten, he remained hopeful that his SF1000 can turn out to be a better race car than its potential on low-fuel runs.

For sure we would have liked to be faster, but P11 puts us in a good spot for the race, with a free tyre choice allowing us to do something different with the strategy, which could be important as it is meant to be much hotter tomorrow. It’s not ideal and I am not fully happy and we clearly did not have as much in hand as the others, but our race pace should be more competitive,” Vettel added.

Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc managed to qualify for the last qualifying segment, although he was not able to secure more than a seventh-place for the Austrian Grand Prix. The two-time grand prix winner said that the qualifying results pretty much depicted the current pecking order.

"Seventh place is the best we could do today. Of course it’s not where we want to be but we are just not quick enough, so we need to work hard and try to catch up. There’s still a bit of performance we can get here and there and we need to put everything together, getting the best out of the package we have, because for now it’s all we’ve got. The smallest detail is very important as everyone is very close now.”

The 22-year-old Leclerc urges his team to improve its woeful F1 car, but he believed the Maranello-based team will only achieve that if it managed to stay calm and does not start panicking.

„It was a difficult day but at least now we know where we are. As a team, all we can do is cheer up and find the positive in all of this, even though it’s not easy. We need to work all together in a constructive way and try to do the best job possible to improve things in the next few races.”

„We should keep our moral up and be motivated and just work to improve. This is the way forward to get out of these hard times. The balance of the car is quite good but it’s the overall performance which is still not good enough,” Leclerc concluded.