Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. (Reuters Photo)
SPIELBERG: Ferrari fast-tracked performance upgrades through to the second race of the Formula One season in Austria but unhappy team boss Mattia Binotto said on Saturday they had not delivered as planned.
Four times world champion Sebastian Vettel qualified 10th for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix while team mate Charles Leclerc will start 14th after a three-place grid drop for impeding AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat.
“We have to accept that the stopwatch doesn’t ever lie,” commented Binotto.
“In two qualifying sessions, albeit in different conditions, we have not been competitive, not only against those who have been our closest rivals over the past few years, but also against others, who up to yesterday were generally behind us.
“We worked very hard to bring updates to the car earlier than planned, but they didn’t show their worth on track,” he said of a new front wing and floor.
“We have to work out why and change this state of affairs, which is just not good enough for a team by the name of Ferrari.”
So poor was Ferrari’s performance that Leclerc — on pole in Austria last year — will start behind George Russell‘s Williams after the Briton (11th) secured that team’s highest grid position since 2018.
Ferrari have recognised design failings in their car, although the engine that was so competitive last season is also clearly part of the problem now with all three Ferrari-powered teams struggling.
Suspicions about the Ferrari power unit came to a head last season with the governing FIA and Italian team reaching a confidential settlement.
Rivals had suspected the team, overall runners-up to Mercedes last year, were circumventing fuel flow sensors to gain performance.
Ferrari have denied anything untoward but their performances in pre-season testing and at last weekend’s season opener at the same Red Bull Ring have been surprisingly slow even if Leclerc ultimately finished second.
“We were just not quick enough today. When I look at the gap to the cars at the front, I am quite surprised,” said Leclerc. “There’s definitely some work to do.”