Australian Grand Prix – Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto says that the team still aren’t 100% sure why Sebastian Vettel suffered a high speed wheel rim failure during pre-season testing.
Vettel crashed heavily on the second day of the second week of pre-season testing in Barcelona. Threading his SF90 through the high speed right hand Turn 3, the left front wheel of the Ferrari suffered a failure. This resulted in Vettel losing control of the car and spearing straight on into the barriers. It was a high speed crash that set off the G-force sensors on the car, meaning Vettel required precautionary medical checks, which he passed without concern.
The car was out of action for the rest of that day, aside from a short appearance from Charles Leclerc right at the close of the day. An explanation came from the team that the wheel rim had failed after being struck by a foreign object while out on track.
Asked about the failure during the FIA Team Personnel Press Conference on Friday, Mattia Binotto explained that the team never figured out the exact cause of the problem: “Certainly we investigated. We still do not have a full picture, full picture or certainty on what happened. But we put a lot of actions in place and we are pretty sure that, with the actions we put in place, somehow we have cover there,”
Obviously this would call into question the safety of the car, but Binotto quickly refuted any possibility that the problem could re-occur by saying :”We are safe for the next running. So, we are still doing some checks. We are making sure that we have the full picture of what may have happened – but let me say that we feel safe.”
With Binotto going into his first race weekend as the leader of the Scuderia and coming off the back of a very promising testing programme, he was asked about his level of confidence about the team’s performance: “Not confident at all. I think that winter testing is not qualifying, it’s not a racing environment, you never know what the others are running.”
“Very difficult to assess the performance. I think we simply focused on ourselves, we had eight intense days, very little time to prepare for Melbourne. By the time you finish the testing the cars are ready to be shipped directly to Melbourne, so I think it’s really by here that we start understanding who is the fastest. I think our challengers are very strong.”