Scuderia Ferrari’s Head of Race Strategy Iñaki Rueda confirmed that the team was encouraged by the results of its latest upgrades, but the team needs to prove that the progress is not track-specific.
Ferrari has endured a difficult season so far in 2020 that has seen the Scuderia score only two podium finishes. The Maranello-based outfit is currently occupying the sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship with a 33-point gap to the third-placed Racing Point outfit.
Although the team hardly brought any upgrades to its troublesome 2020 F1 car, SF1000 during the first half of the coronavirus-affected season, it introduced new parts at the Russian and the Eifel Grands Prix. Last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix saw the team complete its three-stage development programme by introducing further modifications to its car with which Ferrari intended to remedy the aerodynamic flaws of its machine.
“In Portimao, we completed a development programme that began in Sochi. In Portugal specifically, we introduced a new floor and diffuser, which we had wanted to test at the Nurburgring, but could not because of the rain,” said Rueda.
Ferrari is currently running a three-pillar development programme by developing its actual 2020 car, carrying out work on its 2021 machine and testing its all-new power unit for the forthcoming season. At Portimao, the team also trialled a new, experimental floor that was developed in accordance with the modified technical regulation with which the FIA intends to trim the downforce level of the cars by around ten per cent.
„We also experimented with a new configuration to the end of the floor to reproduce the downforce levels we will have in 2021, after recent changes to the technical regulations.
„I’d say the results were positive, to the extent we then fitted the updates to both cars. Now we have to confirm what we saw in Portimao this coming weekend at Imola. That will be another unusual weekend give that the event takes place over just two days. It won't be the first time, given that in the past, bad weather has led to sessions being delayed to the following day, but it will still be a different experience. Who knows, it might be an additional opportunity to do well.”
Rueda also disclosed that Ferrari „also tried some solutions that should help to warm up the tyres, an area in which we have suffered this year, especially in the low temperatures we have encountered in this unusual season.”
Reflecting on the last weekend’s 17th Portuguese Grand Prix, the Madrid-born said that getting the tyres up to temperatures was Ferrari’s main issue during the race that not only took place in cool conditions, but it also incorporated several periods of drizzle.
„The trickiest moment could have been the pit stop, because it involved switching to the Hard, which was also difficult to get up to temperature, so that he [Charles Leclerc] might have been vulnerable to attack on the first laps, as well as the fact that the pit lane exit created an even bigger disadvantage over the first few corners for those coming out of the pits.
„That’s why Charles’ stop was made a few laps earlier than necessary. It meant we covered Perez’s return as he got close for a couple of laps, but dropped back once the Hards were up to temperature,” he said.