Charles Leclerc ran as high as third in the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday, but the Scuderia Ferrari driver did not have the pace needed to stay in contention for the podium, ultimately finishing down in eighth.
The Monegasque racer made a good start to climb from fifth on the grid to run third, but the pace of his SF1000 was insufficient to keep many of his rivals behind, with Leclerc feeling the car was ‘quite difficult to drive’ throughout the fifty-nine lap race at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.
It was not as though Leclerc wasn’t having fun at Mugello however, with the former Alfa Romeo Racing driver enjoying the restarts that followed the two red flags in particular.
“I had a great start, making my way to P3,” said Leclerc. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace we needed to keep this position and finished in eighth place.
“I tried to fight as much as I could, but it just wasn’t enough today. Lots of things happened in the race, but one thing hasn’t changed, which is that we have to work hard to improve our performance.
“The race itself was quite fun. I was happy every time there was a standing start because it was an opportunity for us to try and fight for positions.
“The car was quite difficult to drive, especially on the Hard tyres. Towards the end it became a bit better on the Softs, but overall, it’s very tough at the moment, so we need to keep our heads up and stay motivated. It’s very important to keep this in mind in times like these. Hopefully we will see better times coming soon.”
“The positive thing is that we were able to finish in the points” – Sebastian Vettel
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished tenth, his third tenth place of 2020, even though he was forced to pit on the opening lap after breaking his front wing after hitting Carlos Sainz Jr. on the exit of turn three.
The German was at the back of the field for the restart but was able to avoid the carnage that unfolded ahead of him, but for long spells he was unable to get close to Williams Racing’s George Russell. On the final restart, Vettel was able to jump into the top ten ahead of the slow-starting Briton, and he was able to take the final point.
Vettel acknowledges that tenth place is not the position Ferrari should be competing for, but he admitted a bit of luck played its part in getting in the points at all.
“The start was not the best, but then I had a good run into Turn 1 staying on the inside, out of trouble,” said Vettel. “Then when I came round Turn 2, I saw that the McLaren had spun, but I couldn’t avoid making contact.
“Luckily, with the Safety Car deployed we could change the wing and rejoin the field. I would have loved to capitalise a little bit more on other people’s mistakes, but at least we were quite lucky to generally stay out of trouble. The positive thing is that we were able to finish in the points, but of course we can’t be happy with our position.”
“Both Charles and Sebastian did the best they could” – Mattia Binotto
Mattia Binotto, the Team Principal at Ferrari, said the result at Mugello was a disappointing one for the team celebrating one-thousand races in Formula 1, although he laid no blame on either driver for their performance.
Binotto felt both Leclerc and Vettel performed as best as they could with the machinery at their disposal, although it only merited five points at their home venue.
Whilst acknowledging the SF1000 has many weaknesses, Binotto says the problems the car has cannot be resolved overnight, and he expects more difficult weekend’s to come for the Scuderia.
“A very disappointing result brings to an end an historic weekend for Scuderia Ferrari at our home track, Mugello, with our one thousandth Formula 1 Grand Prix,” said Binotto.
“While yesterday, at least with Charles we managed to get a result in line with our expectations, today we didn’t have the pace to allow our drivers to fight with their nearest rivals, suffering especially with tyre degradation.
“Both Charles and Sebastian did the best they could, given the performance level of the car. We are working hard to try and correct its basic faults, but it’s not something that can be done in a short space of time, nor with a few updates.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t be bringing new solutions between now and the end of the season, but we have to be realistic with ourselves and with our fans.”