Sebastian Vettel confessed that Scuderia Ferrari are just ‘not very competitive’ at this point of the season, with the German enduring a tough Friday ahead of this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The German was seventh fastest in the morning session, 1.332 seconds off the pace set by Valtteri Bottas at the front of the field, but dropped to fourteenth in the afternoon in a session that saw him stop at the side of the track at Copse following an apparent engine failure.
After a tough British Grand Prix at the same circuit last weekend, Vettel could at least take confidence that he feels in a better place than he was seven days ago, but there is still a distinct lack of pace coming from the SF1000 compared to the leading runners.
“We tried a couple of things today and overall I’m a little bit happier than last week, but we are not very competitive at the moment and we need to have a look at the data to see what we can work on,” said Vettel.
“On the Soft tyre the car is good on the first lap, then it becomes a bit more difficult. We are trying to save the harder compounds for the race, so we need to see where we are in quali and then we will decide the strategy for the race.
“There are some key area where we need to try to improve the car. They are probably small things, but hopefully we will get a bit more competitive.”
Vettel admitted the engine failure at the end of the day was unexpected, with his session coming to a halt with fluid pouring out of the bottom of the SF1000 after the car broke going through Woodcote.
“On the engine failure I can say that it was very sudden,” said the German. “We have to see what it is, but it will take some time, because the engine has to be sent to Maranello for analysis.”
“We are a bit too slow on the Medium, which is unusual for us” – Charles Leclerc
Team-mate Charles Leclerc was more confident about his performance than Vettel was, even though his own running was not as straightforward as it was seven days ago at the same circuit.
The Monegasque racer ended fifth fastest in the morning, just over eight-tenths of a second behind pacesetter Bottas, before closing out the day with the seventh fastest time, although he was 1.206 seconds away from Lewis Hamilton’s best.
Leclerc admits there are concerns about the pace of the SF1000, particularly on the medium compound of tyre, a compound Ferrari are usually good at getting speed out of. He also feels the medium will be the tyre of choice when it comes to Qualifying on Saturday for the majority of the drivers.
“It wasn’t bad today, although a bit more difficult than last Friday,” said Leclerc. “We are working to try and understand the tyres, as there’s quite a big change of grip between the Medium and the Soft. We are a bit too slow on the Medium, which is unusual for us.
“The car balance feels pretty good, it’s just the general performance which is not as good as we had hoped for on the Medium. There are still a few things to work on in view of qualifying tomorrow with the aim of going through Q2 on Medium tyres, which we think a lot of cars will try to do.
“Anyway, it’ll be very interesting to see what compound everyone will start the race on and it should be an unpredictable race with many different strategies.”