Following a dreadful Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari continued to struggle for pace on home soil with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel secure the 13th and 17th starting position for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix.
Ferrari endured a difficult pre-season testing at Barcelona back in February where it became evident that the Scuderia lost its engine performance advantage due to multiple technical directives that had been issued at the end of the 2019 F1 season. The Italian team's low-key form was not surprising when the season finally got going at the Red Bull Ring on July 5 following the coronavirus-enforced shutdown period.
Despite the uncompetitive package, Charles Leclerc managed to squeeze out the last drop of performance of his SF1000, securing two podium finishes in Spielberg and Silverstone. However, when the field descended at Spa last weekend, Ferrari found itself in real trouble. Its draggy car concept and engine disadvantage were highlighted at the 7.004 fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit where teams changed their aerodynamic package to a very low-downforce configuration.
The situation has not improved at Monza that host Ferrari’s first home Grand Prix this year. Following the disappointing results on Saturday, Ferrari’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies said: "The result is very disappointing but unfortunately, hardly surprising. As was the case in Spa a week ago, we knew that on tracks like these, with characteristics that highlight our car’s weaknesses, we would struggle.
„Now we and the drivers have to focus to be as well prepared as possible for tomorrow’s race, ready to make the most of any opportunity that could come our way. That’s for right now, but even more importantly, we must continue to work hard to improve the car for this season and the next."
Despite the difficult situation, Ferrari had something to celebrate today thanks to Mick Schumacher. The German who is part of the Ferrari Driver Academy stormed to his first victory in Formula 2 in 2020.
„On a difficult day like this, there was one ray of sunshine thanks to the guys in the Ferrari Driver Academy who are racing in Formula 2, with Mick Schumacher taking his first win of the season. It’s great to see that, at the moment, the top three in the series, leader Robert Shwartzman, Callum Ilott and Mick himself, are all products of our Academy,” concluded Meekies.
On top of Ferrari’s issues, Vettel was unfortunate at the end of the first qualifying session as drivers started to overtake each other in the dying seconds of Q1 which eventually ruined the chances of completing any meaningful lap.
"There’s not much to say about this session. There were a lot of cars in front of me when I started my second quick lap. In that moment I knew it wouldn’t be possible to improve my time. I don't know why the other drivers started to overtake on the warm up lap. I found myself in the middle of the mess and didn't get a lap. Everybody should stay in the position they are in the line, then everybody opens a gap and it should be fine to set a time.
"From our side, probably we didn’t pick the right time to get back on track and some others managed to do better than us, as they improved. Of course starting from so far back on the grid means it will not be an easy race, but you never know what can happen and we will see what we can do."
Leclerc had a straightforward session, still he was unable to achieve more than a 13th place on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix.
"Coming into the weekend we expected is to be like this. We knew that Spa and here are probably the two worst tracks for us but this is our situation at the moment. It’s tough, because once you do a good lap and you end up P13 it doesn’t feel good. But for now I need to try and extract the maximum out of the car in the situation we are in.
„Of course, it hurts even more as this is our home race, but it’s the reality for us at present, unfortunately. We need to work and hopefully Mugello, which is still home soil for Ferrari, will be a bit better than here. Last weekend and here, we have been trying many things on the car, but we are not finding a solution. So we need to keep our head down, stay motivated, and I’m sure better days will come,” the Monegasque said.