Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel says the performance from the Italian team at the Red Bull Ring shows that they are capable of winning races, but needs more downforce in order to remain competitive throughout the season.
Vettel rounded off a challenging Austrian Grand Prix weekend by finishing fourth, recovering after a disappointing qualifying session. The German failed to set a lap time in Q3 after an issue with the engine’s pneumatic air supply line, which couldn’t be fixed.
But in the race, Vettel made up ground quickly and was in contention for a podium finish until Max Verstappen passed the German on his way to completing a comeback drive that saw him take the win at Red Bull‘s home turf.
After Verstappen passed Vettel, Ferrari switched him to a two-stop strategy and fitted new Soft tyres on the car. This allowed him to chase down Lewis Hamilton, passing him on the penultimate lap and end the race in fourth.
Vettel felt Ferrari provided him a great car which allowed him to enjoy wheel-to-wheel racing, but feel sympathetic for his team-mate Charles Leclerc, who lost the race win with three laps to go to Verstappen.
“I’m always positive and today the team gave me a great car to drive and I think this was a better weekend for us, maybe like in Canada a few weeks back,”
“I’m disappointed about how things went for me yesterday but today’s race was fun for me from the cockpit and I enjoyed some good wheel to wheel battles, pushing throughout.
“I’m also disappointed for Charles as he did an excellent job and was very strong all weekend. All in all, I’m happy in one sense but unhappy in another, because we could have had both cars on the podium this weekend, one of them on the top step.“
During the race and for Vettel’s first pit stop, Ferrari brought him in to cover off Valtteri Bottas. Vettel was able to hold off Bottas in his pit box for a couple of seconds as Vettel entered his pit box. But Ferrari’s attempt to reduce the gap to Bottas backfired as a radio failure saw some of the mechanics still getting the tyres whilst Vettel waited in his box.
Ferrari’s pace over the weekend was strong as they led all Saturday’s sessions with Leclerc and claimed pole position with the Monegasque driver. Leclerc was on course to win the race and claim his first F1 win until Lap 69, when Verstappen made his move on Leclerc at Turn 3 for the lead of the race.
This is Ferrari’s third chance of winning a race in 2019, but has taken away from them. Bahrain saw the team dominate, but race leader Leclerc suffered an engine-related issue which halted him from taking the win. At Canada, Vettel dominated the race until Lap 40, when he went off and was controversially penalised for rejoining in an unsafe matter, handing the win to Hamilton. Austria saw Leclerc favorite to win the race, but Verstappen delivered one of his best drives to snatch the win away with three laps to go.
Vettel believes that the SF90 is good enough to win races this year, but says that the car needs more downforce in order to remain competitive and have a chance of claiming their first win of the 2019 season.
“As for the car, we know what’s needed: we need more downforce. We are strong at tracks like this and the one in Canada and we know what we have to do to improve the car, but it’s not easy and it can’t be done in just one day.
“I’d like to thank all the team in Maranello because all of them are very passionate about this and are working like mad to improve the car. This year’s Ferrari is definitely good enough to win races.”