Monaco Grand Prix – Sebastian Vettel has openly admitted that the Ferrari SF90 isn’t yet up to the task of beating Mercedes in terms of pace, highlighting tyres as an additional stumbling block.
Ferrari are yet to beat Mercedes in a race this season, with the German team managing to pull off five 1-2 finishes in a row to start the year.
With Ferrari even struggling to finish on the podium as Red Bull Racing continue to be a thorn in the red team’s side, Vettel was circumspect as he admitted that Ferrari aren’t yet where they want to be:
“I think we understood in Barcelona that we just aren’t quick enough. That’s fair to say after the first few races, but we’re not happy with that. We’re working very hard to change that and make a difference. This track is unique and anything can happen here so it’s probably irrelevant of what the previous races might say. Going forward though, we know we’re not quick enough to beat Mercedes but we’re working to change that.”
With team boss Mattia Binotto saying that the concept of the 2019 car may be wrong for Ferrari, Vettel says the atmosphere within the team remains good and positive as they face having to chase their tails as they figure out where they went wrong: “The spirit is good and we deserve a good result for everyone’s sake for the hard work we’re doing. We’re not leaning back and taking in the sun and slipping away.
“Other people have done a better job than us and it’s up to us to come up with solutions and make our package faster.”
Along with saying that the SF90 isn’t quick enough, Vettel said the team have really struggled to figure out the tyres with Pirelli switching to a thinner thread manufacturing process for 2019. When similar tyres were used in 2018, Ferrari also seemed to struggle and Vettel said that the performance window appears to be miniscule:
“Tyres are different this year and we are struggling a little more than others. The tyres are very sensitive and difficult to understand and the combination of that and the car not being quick enough, this means we’re not in the window for the tyres. The window is so small and you can see big differences in laptime inside the same team which we struggle to understand. Sometimes it feels better, sometimes worse, and it takes a lot of engineering work to figure out why in these random scenarios.”
As for whether the two day in-season test last week allowed Ferrari to figure out any of their issues, he said that exploration of different setups meant they did find some laptime: “We tried some stuff in testing after we found over the GP weekend that we weren’t quick enough, and explored different setups and everything with the extra time in testing. Overall, though, the gap in Spain was quite big and for here, it’s difficult to predict how it will go but I don’t see why we shouldn’t have a good race here. I’m feeling optimistic and looking forward to getting back out on track.”