Despite low expectations after the struggles during the qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari concluded the season-opener around the Red Bull Ring with a surprising podium finish.
Although Ferrari endured a low-key performance during pre-season testing, the Scuderia hoped that it could fine-tune its 2020 F1 car for the coronavirus-delayed start of the new season. However, in the qualifying session in which everyone had to show its cards for the first time this year, it has become evident that the Italian outfit’s SF1000 is currently no match for its arch-rivals Mercedes and Red Bull.
Charles Leclerc started today’s Austrian Grand Prix from the seventh position while Sebastian Vettel kicked off his season with an eleventh-place start after failing to get himself through into the last qualifying segment. Despite expecting no miracles for the race, the Monegasque delivered a masterful performance and with the fortune on his side, he fought his way up the order, finishing the Spielberg thriller in the second place.
Leclerc praised Ferrari’s effort to get the maximum out of its current situation. He said: „The team did a fantastic job, both in terms of strategy and with the car itself. We knew we had to make the best of it today. I told myself that we had to take any opportunity we had and that’s the way I drove. I am very happy with the result - we didn’t expect to finish in second place.
While it was great to start off the season with a podium, we cannot ignore the fact that we aren’t where we want to be in terms of performance. We were lucky this weekend, with safety cars and retirements mixing things up, but we can’t expect to fight for the win at these next few races.”
The two-time race winner said that Ferrari has to avoid losing its mojo and needs to work hard instead. „We have to stay motivated and I am sure that the whole factory is working very hard to bring us back stronger. And that’s the spirit we need to remain focused on our targets."
Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel was less delighted after only finishing down in 10th position following a rather difficult race. After starting from P11, the German managed to make up a place at the start, but he did not find the rhythm on Pirelli’s medium compound and made a contact with Carlos Sainz’s McLaren which sent him into a spin.
The quadruple world champion labelled his race disappointed, „ even if we knew beforehand it would be tough. I struggled for the entire race, already after the first two laps, just as I had done in quali.”
„The balance and speed I had on Friday just slipped away from us and I was really struggling to keep the car on track. So now we have to try and find out why in the hope of doing better next weekend."