Austrian Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says the SF1000 is missing grip and downforce compared to the frontrunners.
Sebastian Vettel finished the first day of practice at the Red Bull Ring down in P4, leading Ferrari’s charge as Charles Leclerc finished in P9.
Ferrari never really looked capable of troubling the times set by Mercedes, despite not running the Soft tyre compound during FP1. When they did finally switch to the red marked tyres during FP2, Vettel’s best time was over a half a second down on what Mercedes were capable of. Worse, Vettel was eclipsed by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and, had Max Verstappen not broken his front wing, likely would have finished behind the Red Bull driver as well.
“I think we had a decent day.” said Vettel afterwards, celebrating his 33rd birthday with the rest of his team. “We didn’t have any trouble with the cars. It was good for us all to be back at the track and it was good to see that the team got up to speed fairly quickly and had no problems running through all the procedures. In terms of speed and competitiveness, it was an interesting day. I think we’ve seen that we are not at the top, that we are not the favourites.”
Ferrari have been vocal in downplaying their pace at the moment, with no updates being brought to this race or next weekend’s Steirmark Grand Prix at the same track. They’ve admitted to needing to change the direction of their aerodynamic package, with the first changes expected at the Hungarian Grand Prix in three weeks time.
Vettel says that the aim for this weekend is to try to slot in ahead of the midfield: “I think tomorrow will be a big day. I don’t think we will be fighting for pole, but we must try to be the best of those behind that battle.
We didn’t take much notice of the teams around us to be honest, as it’s always difficult to predict what sort of fuel loads people are running. I think we will see tomorrow, because we haven’t got a clear picture today.
It’s up to us to develop and work so that the car gets faster. We’re lacking grip and downforce compared to others. So it’s a mix of all these things.”
Charles Leclerc, who had a quiet day en route to P9 at the end of the day, said that the car doesn’t feel bad to drive, but is lacking outright speed: “It wasn’t an easy day for us so it was difficult to enjoy it fully. All the cars are very close, which is exciting to see on the one hand, but on the other hand, we would like to be fighting a bit nearer the front. The balance of the car is not that bad, we need to catch up in terms of overall performance.”
“The lack of pace is not down to any one thing in particular so we’ll try different ways for tomorrow and see if we can gain some performance. Qualifying will be good for the show, as there are quite a lot of teams all close together. We’ll be fighting very hard and it’s crucial we make the right choice tonight to come back with a stronger car tomorrow.”