Scuderia Ferrari go into the Austrian Grand Prix weekend with a sense of frustration after the updates they brought to their SF90 for last weekend’s French Grand Prix did not work as well as they had hoped.
Charles Leclerc took his third podium finish of the year in third place behind the two Mercedes AMG Motorsport drivers, but Sebastian Vettel had an off-key outing, qualifying down in seventh and only taking fifth place, behind Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
At least the German had the bonus point for fastest lap, but that was because of a very late switch to Pirelli’s soft tyre at the Circuit Paul Ricard, although that was only hundredths of a second better than the best lap of Lewis Hamilton, who set his on a set of very used hard tyres.
Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s team principal, says it is important the team learn more about the updates and how to get more out of them ahead of this weekend’s race at the Red Bull Ring, with both Leclerc and Vettel set to be busy in practice as they do a lot of evaluation work on the car.
“We are happy to be getting back on track so quickly, because it’s the best way to put ourselves to the test again to try and understand the elements that did not go according to plan in France,” admits Binotto.
“We have various test items to evaluate, mainly in order to give us a clearer picture as to why some of the updates we brought to Le Castellet did not work as expected.”
Binotto says the Red Bull Ring is a very different track to what they experienced last weekend, but it is likely to be another hot weekend that will put more demands onto the cooling aspects of the car and put tyre management into focus once more.
“The Austrian track is very different to Paul Ricard,” said Binotto. “The first sector has long straights and braking in a straight line, while the second part is tighter, with a mix of low and medium-high speed corners.
“The forecast is for very hot conditions, so it will be a demanding weekend on the cooling front, both for the engine and the brakes, which means tyre management will also be very difficult.”