The British Grand Prix will be one to remember and one to forget depending on what half of the Scuderia Ferrari garage you ask. On one hand Charles Leclerc was able to score Ferrari’s second podium of the season, but on the other Sebastian Vettel languished on the fringes of the points for the entire race.
Starting fourth, Leclerc had a great launch at the start of the race. He had taken third place from Max Verstappen for a brief moment before the Dutchman took back the spot by turn three.
That would be the last he would see of Verstappen, as a very boring race for Leclerc ensued. He wasn’t fast enough to catch Verstappen, but also comfortably faster than those behind him. The order would not change through both safety car periods.
In the final laps of the race however, Leclerc was able to take advantage of Valterri Bottas’s punctured left tyre to pounce into a sneaky third place.
Leclerc admitted post-race that the team got a little lucky with the tyre drama, but was satisfied with the day as a whole.
“It was a difficult day, but a good one. I am very satisfied with this result,” Leclerc said in a press release.
“We know we were a bit lucky, but sometimes these things happen and you need to be there to take the opportunity. I am satisfied with the way in which we have been working this weekend and I am very proud of the team. I am also pleased with my performance, especially with regards to tyre management. It was not easy.
“We had a very aggressive downforce level coming here, so we had quite a lot of speed in the straights but difficulties in the corners. I struggled quite a bit to get the tyres to the right temperature, especially after the safety car. Once they were in the right window, things became less tricky though. I think we did quite a good job with the setup and the balance of the car, and it was very nice to drive.
“We extracted absolutely everything from the package today. Of course, we don’t want to be fighting for fourth place for too much longer, but at the moment that’s what our car is capable of.”
The same could not be said for Sebastian Vettel, who struggled to find the same kind of pace as his compatriot. Fighting on the fringes of the points all day, he would also benefit from the tyre issues that plagued Valterri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jr. The four time world champion was able to hold both of them off to finish tenth and collect one championship point.
Sadly, Vettel was very discouraged by the pace of his car, and admitted that he found this weekend very difficult.
“That was a very difficult race, because I couldn’t challenge anyone,” Vettel said.
“Many of those behind me were a bit faster and managed to get past, as I was struggling massively to find grip in this car, even though I tried lots of different things this weekend.
“I didn’t have the required pace and so my confidence level is quite low at the moment, because I’m struggling to get a feel for the car and every time I try and push, I lose the car. I think we need to have a look at this problem together with the engineers.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto also conceded that this is not where the team wants to be, aiming to have both cars up at the top of the grid which is the aim for next week’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
“Mixed fortunes today,” Binotto said.
“On the plus side is Charles’ podium finish. After a good qualifying yesterday, he was perfect in the race, doing an impeccable job of managing the tyres. On the minus side, is Sebastian’s result. Again today, he was clearly not happy with his car: we have to study the data closely to work out why.
“We had prepared carefully for this weekend, going for a lower than usual aerodynamic downforce configuration, based on simulation work and development in the wind tunnel and it paid off. We also worked a lot on tyre management, which was a critical factor in this race, as can be seen from the last few laps. Charles did a good job, patiently listening to the engineers, saving the tyres for the entire race.
“Today, at least with one car, we got everything out of the package we have, even though it’s a long way off our target. Now we are focussing on next weekend, when we race again on the same track. We will prepare well and try as hard as possible to bring home even more points than today.”