After its recent run of success, Ferrari was adamant to confirm the steps it has taken with its three-stage upgrade package at Imola, but the qualifying session left the Scuderia down-hearted.
Ferrari’s Saturday on home soil turned out to be a difficult day. The recently upgraded SF1000 was proving tricky to handle around the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari with both drivers demanding set-up changes ahead of qualifying. While Vettel had to content with a P14 starting position after he had his best flying lap deleted for track limit infringements, Leclerc had to settle for a solid seventh on the grid for tomorrow’s 63-lap race.
Ferrari’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies did not deny that his team expected its drivers to end up a bit further up the order for tomorrow’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
"Qualifying went pretty much the same way as last weekend, even if we had hoped for something a bit better. However, it does confirm that we are making progress compared to where we were in mid-season and on a track with different characteristics to Portimão.
„Fourth place, which is pretty much our target at the moment, escaped Charles by just over a tenth, but all the same, for the ninth time this season, he was in the top ten on Saturday afternoon. Sebastian seemed more comfortable than previously in the car, but was unable to make the cut out of Q2 and will again start from the lower half of the grid, although he at least has a free choice of tyre compound for the first stint.”
Ferrari once again tried to qualify on the medium tyres for the last qualifying segment which could have provided the team a tactical advantage, but the SF1000 lacked some outright pace to execute that strategic trick. The French engineer said that it would have been too much of a gamble to send Charles Leclerc out on another set of yellow-walled medium tyre for his last run in Q2.
"We again tried to get into Q3 on the mediums to have the strategic benefit tomorrow, doing the first Q2 run on this compound. After the first runs, in Seb’s case it was clear that he should try and improve with the softs and with Charles it was too risky to try again on the harder tyre, so we played it safe.”
Sebastian Vettel got his very first taste of the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari when he headed out on to the track this morning. The German fell in love with the flowing legendary circuit, but he felt he would have needed more time to discover every corner of the 4.9km track.
“I was reasonably happy with my laps, but obviously we were not quick enough. In qualifying, I was happier with the feeling of the car, I was a bit more comfortable than this morning and I tried to squeeze everything out of the package. I was taking a few more risks and for this reason I went wide in the chicane and in the end we lost one position to the track limits rule.
„Today was my first day at this track and I’m still getting totally familiar with it but I have to say that is a really nice track to drive. I hope we will come back here in the near future.”
After posting a time of 1:14.616 in the dying seconds of the qualifying session, Charles Leclerc will line up 7th on the grid for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. On the back of an impressive performance at Portimao, Leclerc expected more from his car and from himself, but admitted that the setup of his SF1000 was far from ideal with only one practice session on the schedule.
"I love this track, especially in quali, when you get to ride the kerbs a lot more. We struggled quite a bit today with the balance of the car and I am not really satisfied with my lap and the way I drove in Q3, but in the end we got P7, which is not terrible, but probably we expected something better. Everyone is very closely matched but looking at the gap to P4 it’s disappointing to see we are three places down.
With tomorrow’s race expected to present drivers with difficulties in terms of overtaking opportunities, the starting positions and a good getaway from the line could become decisive.
"Tomorrow will be tricky, as it’s going to be difficult to overtake,” added Leclerc. „We are starting on a set of soft tyres that has already done two laps in Q2, but after the first stint things should be fine. The race is tomorrow and that’s when the points are scored."
Starting from P14, Vettel will be aiming to execute a one-stop strategy, but he expects a difficult race where overtaking will be a complicated and rare affair.
” We are starting at the back and therefore it will be difficult tomorrow to make up places, because overtaking is not so easy here. It will be important to look after the tyres and then we will see. I think we will be aiming for a one-stop race,” the German said.