Australian GP flop leaves Ferrari confused

Ferrari does not yet understand why its pre-season testing form translated into such a disappointing Australian Grand Prix, where it struggled constantly with balance and tyre problems.

Australian GP flop leaves Ferrari confused
Listen to this article

The Italian team was considered the early favourite after two very strong weeks of testing in Spain, where its rival Mercedes did not get to grips with a heavily-updated car until the final day.

However, Ferrari started the Melbourne weekend on the back foot in Friday practice, trailed Mercedes by 0.7s in qualifying and its lead car finished fourth in the race, almost a minute adrift of Mercedes' race winner Valtteri Bottas.

Asked by Motorsport.com about a weekend that did not go as expected, and what it has discovered to explain its struggles, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: "I think you're right, it's not what we were expecting. Winter testing was certainly different.

"Since Friday FP1 we never found the right balance on the car and we struggled with the tyres.

"We tried different set-up approaches during the weekend but I have to say we never concluded with the right balance.

"[The team was] unhappy in qualifying, and when you're in parc ferme [conditions with no changes allowed before the race] that's what you've got.

"The performance is simply reflecting what we had in qualifying as well.

"We didn't find the right balance. We were lacking grip. Did we understand that yet? Probably not.

"It's something we need to go back, analyse all the data and try to assess what happened."

Sebastian Vettel and his new teammate Charles Leclerc had described the car as nimble, responsive and easy to drive a few weeks ago, but Melbourne's Albert Park street circuit is a very different challenge to Barcelona.

It is a lower-grip, slower and bumpier circuit, while higher ambient and track temperatures place a premium on tyre preparation and management through one lap and over a stint.

The lap also begins with a fast right-left that requires the driver to have confidence in the car, something Vettel said he lacked all weekend.

It bears resemblance to the 2018 season opener, which Ferrari and Vettel won because of good fortune under the safety car after being comprehensively beaten in qualifying.

After that, Vettel qualified on pole in Bahrain and won again, as Ferrari emerged with the fastest car in the early part of the season.

However, Vettel dismissed the comparison, claiming last year's struggle in Australia was because of a lively rear end that required Ferrari to dial understeer into the car.

He said Ferrari had then improvements in place for Bahrain, which triggered the turnaround.

"The problem has nothing to do with what we have seen last year," he said. "Still the [2019] car, all the numbers and so on, make sense.

"Clearly we're missing something. Right now we don't have an answer but I'm sure we'll find something.

"We know the car is better than what we've seen, not just today but the whole weekend."

shares
comments
Australian Grand Prix driver ratings
Previous article

Australian Grand Prix driver ratings

Next article

Giovinazzi's Australian GP "more or less over" on first lap

Giovinazzi's Australian GP "more or less over" on first lap
Load comments
The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move Prime

The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move

OPINION: Uncertainty over Lewis Hamilton's future has persisted since the race direction call that denied him an eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last month. But while walking away would be understandable, Hamilton has time and again responded well in the face of adversity and possesses all the tools needed to bounce back stronger than ever

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2022
What the FIA must do to restore F1's credibility Prime

What the FIA must do to restore F1's credibility

OPINION: The first stage of the 2022 Formula 1 pre-season is just over a month away, but the championship is still reeling from the controversial results of last year’s finale. The FIA acknowledges F1 has had its reputation dented as a result, so here’s how it could go about putting things right

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2022
The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins Prime

The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, We pick out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1 Prime

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades.

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022