Mattia Binotto was downbeat after another below par performance from Scuderia Ferrari during the Spanish Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finishing off the podium in fourth and fifth respectively.
The Team Principal of the Maranello-based squad had come into the race weekend with high hopes that updates to the SF90H would bring Ferrari closer to the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport team who had taken one-two finishes in the opening four races, but this was not to be, and he was forced to endure another one-two by the German team at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
A lock-up heading into turn one also lost Vettel momentum and third position to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, with neither Ferrari driver able to mount a serious attack on the Dutchman for the final spot on the podium as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas pulled away at the front.
“This was yet another race that ended well below our expectations,” said Binotto. “It was a shame about the start, because Sebastian got off the line really well but then he locked up the wheels and lost some places.”
Twice during the race, Ferrari switched their drivers, with Leclerc first passing an ailing Vettel who was struggling due to flat-spots on his tyres, remnants of his first corner lock-up, while they switched again as Leclerc ran the hard Pirelli tyre and had less pace than his team-mate as he bid to run to the chequered flag on just one pit stop.
However, neither switch looked particularly clean, with both drivers losing significant time in doing the moves, although Binotto felt they did make the moves at the right time.
“The decision to split the strategies was taken as the race evolved,” said Binotto. “Swapping the driver positions round is never easy and we thought we’d done it at the right moment, when we were sure that the one behind had a better pace than the one in front.”
Whilst Binotto was pleased to see improvements by Ferrari thanks to the updates brought to Barcelona, it was clear to the Team Principal that they were nowhere near good enough to bring them into contention for the win. It is now clear to him that a lot of work needs to be done behind the scenes to ensure the gap to Mercedes is reduced in the upcoming races.
“The updates we brought here to Barcelona, both on the aero front and on the engine, worked well and we are more than pleased with them, but they proved to be insufficient,” he admitted. “Now we have to analyse and think about what did not work.
“And when it comes to that, as of today I don’t think we have a precise answer. We know we have a lot to do and that we must improve. That was made clear this weekend, but we are not losing heart. The mood in the team is still good and there’s a strong desire to do better, so now we have to respond with our actions.
“Congratulations to Mercedes on what they have done so far.”