The Scuderia Ferrari team came to the Australian Grand Prix after an impressive showing in the winter tests. But from the first practice session, the team struggled with the tyres and balance at Albert Park.
The team was off the pace and Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc qualified in third and fifth position respectively. The race pace did not improve either and both drivers finished off the podium, and Team Principal Mattia Binotto was baffled by the lack of pace.
“Right from Friday, we didn’t feel comfortable at this track,” said Binotto. “Even though we did a lot of work on set-up, we didn’t find the right balance and even our qualifying performance demonstrated that we were struggling to adapt to the Albert Park track.
“Then, in the race, in the first stint, we tried to keep up. Charles made a slight mistake, which meant he could not stay with the leaders.”
To add to the woes of the Italian team, Vettel had a poor second stint and was overtaken by Max Verstappen and Binotto said the German was unable to find enough grip to deny the Red Bull Racing driver the final spot on the podium.
“After his pit stop, Seb’s car never found the right grip level on the Medium tyres and so the driver was unable to attack those ahead of him,” said Binotto.
“When he could no longer fend off Verstappen, we decided the most important thing was to get to the end, managing the tyres. When Charles caught up to him, it seemed wise not to take any risks.”
The team has a lot of work to do before the Bahrain Grand Prix to get back to competitive levels according to Binotto.
“We leave Australia with a lot of data to analyse and we will use that to work out how to get back to our actual level of competitiveness for the race in Bahrain in two weeks time,” he concluded.