Mixed fortunes befell Scuderia Ferrari at the Japanese Grand Prix, which was held at the Suzuka International Racing Course this weekend, the team securing a second and seventh place respectively.
It proved to be a difficult race from the get-go for the two Ferrari team-mates, with Sebastian Vettel‘s hesitation at lights out causing him to lose a place to Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Valtteri Bottas, with Charles Leclerc being slow off the line due to wheelspin.
Leclerc’s poor start meant he dropped right to the back of the field, and had no choice but to work his way back up again.
Vettel was positive overall, although he recognised the result was not what the team would have liked.
“We had a very good morning, but the afternoon was less good in terms of the result we were able to achieve as a team,” said Vettel.
“The start wasn’t good for either me or Charles and without that, we could have had both cars fighting at the front. It was difficult today and to be fair, our rivals were simply quicker, Valtteri was just flying.”
The German admitted that his bad start was partly of his own making as he didn’t engage the clutch at the right time.
“I had a poor start, I was a bit early with the clutch initially then clutched in again and lost a bit of momentum. Usually our starts are very good but not this time.”
“After that we were missing out a little bit in terms of speed in the race compared to our rivals. We went through the tyres more than Valtteri and Lewis. Especially at the end of the stints they were dropping off a bit more, whereas our rivals kept the pace throughout.”
It was also a difficult day for Leclerc, who, as well as suffering wheelspin off the grid, made contact with Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen at turn 1, damaging his front wing.
“It was a tough race. I made a mistake at the start and made contact with Max (Verstappen) in turn 1, which unfortunately compromised both our races and my front wing was damaged,” said Leclerc.
“I tried to make the best of it going forward. After the first stop, when my front wing was changed, I gave it my all. I tried to make up as many positions as possible.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto remains optimistic despite the team not bringing home the result they would have liked.
“Congratulations from all of us to our rivals and friends for nailing another well-deserved Constructors’ Championship today. Over the course of the season, they simply did the best job and that’s exactly what you need in this business,” said Binotto.
“For our part, I’d like to highlight a positive aspect, namely the performance of our car, which was good enough to secure the front row in qualifying this morning – an exceptional result here at Suzuka,” he concluded.