Mattia Binotto says Scuderia Ferrari tried everything they could to get Charles Leclerc ahead of Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship during last Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but ultimately the Monegasque racer was forced to settle for fourth in the championship despite finishing on the podium in third.
Leclerc managed to get ahead of his rival from Aston Martin Red Bull Racing on the opening lap but did not have any kind of pace advantage to stay ahead of Verstappen, eventually losing second place to the Dutchman on lap thirty-two.
Ultimately, Binotto, the Team Principal at Ferrari, felt third was the best Leclerc could achieve, while he also felt team-mate Sebastian Vettel was unlucky in the early stages to not have the benefit of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) as he attempted to also find his way ahead of Verstappen.
The German was ultimately forced to settle for fifth on the day, with Vettel also finishing that same position in the Drivers’ Championship.
“We knew that we were lacking some elements to have one of our better races today,” said Binotto. “We had to try something different to manage the difficult task of getting Charles to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship.
“His performance level today was an accurate reflection of our car’s potential in this race and it was therefore satisfying to see him on the podium. He drove a strong race to round off a great season.
“As for Sebastian, he struggled a bit in the early stages as he could not use DRS, when his soft tyres should have given him an advantage. After that he did all he could to finish in the points.”
“Busy Winter Ahead of Us” – Binotto
With Ferrari finishing two-hundred and thirty-five points behind Mercedes AMG Motorsport in the Constructors’ Championship, Binotto admits there is a lot of work to do in order to fight for both titles in 2020, and he feels their beloved Tifosi deserve so much more than they achieved this season.
The first half of 2019 saw the team fail to take a single win, with their first triumph coming when Leclerc won the Belgian Grand Prix. The Monegasque racer then won again in Italy, to the delight of the Italian fans, while Vettel’s sole win of the year came in Singapore.
With Mercedes winning fifteen races, it is clear to Binotto that there is plenty to do to overhaul their rivals.
“Now we have a busy winter ahead of us, when we will work very hard, while concentrating on the priorities of doing a good job by all pulling together,” said the Team Principal.
“The final thought at the end of this long season goes to our fans. We want to thank them once again for having always stood by us during the good and the bad times. They deserve so much and we can’t wait to repay them for their support.”