In what was looking like a promising weekend for Scuderia Ferrari at Intercity Istanbul Park ended in a disappointing result in Saturday’s Qualifying session, with both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finding themselves eliminated in Q2.
In often treacherous conditions, both Ferrari drivers struggled to show the kind of pace they had on Friday, although Vettel was able to get ahead of Leclerc in Q2, a rare occurrence in a season where the Monegasque racer has often had the upper hand.
Vettel admitted the SF1000 struggled to get enough heat in its tyres for the team to fight for a place inside the top ten, with the German eventually ending up twelfth, although he will move up a place after Lando Norris was handed a grid penalty ahead of him.
“We were struggling just to generate heat in the tyres, and in a situation like this I think couple of degrees makes all the difference,” said Vettel. “Unfortunately, we were not able to maximize our potential and I felt the Extreme Wet was our weakest compound. I’m quite sure the car was better than P12, but not in these conditions.
“Tomorrow it will be interesting even starting from the midfield, because the situation with this track surface is something we haven’t seen before, apart from maybe in Austin in 2012, when the asphalt was new.
“Yesterday, in the dry it was very tricky but was also fun. Of course, the race won’t be easy, but I think there’s definitely room to improve from our starting position.”
For Leclerc, the Monegasque racer felt the performance on his side of the garage was worse than he was expecting it to be in those conditions, with he also complaining about tyre temperatures. He initially qualified fourteenth but will move up two places thanks to the grid penalties for Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.
“The conditions were very difficult for us out there today and unfortunately, our performance was worse than expected, after a reasonably good weekend so far,” said Leclerc. “This morning it was raining quite hard but I could feel the grip and I was confident with the car, but this afternoon it was a completely different picture.
“We just could not make the tyres work in quali, we were struggling in the rain and being so far off the pace is really not good. I’m hoping for a dry race tomorrow.”
“This was clearly a very disappointing qualifying” – Laurent Mekies
Laurent Mekies, the Sporting Director at Ferrari, admitted it was a qualifying session to forget for the Maranello-based team, although they have not been that competitive in wet conditions at any point in 2020 to date.
Free practice on Friday had hinted of a competitive weekend for Ferrari, but they will now have their work cut out from the sixth row of the grid to score a good amount of points in the Constructors’ Championship.
“This was clearly a very disappointing qualifying,” said Mekies. “We never managed to get the tyres into the right operating window, apart from our last run in Q1.
“We had already seen from the very first round this year in Austria that we struggle in the wet, but this morning on the intermediates, we were competitive and hoped that would also be the case in qualifying. However, especially on the extreme wets, the drivers were just unable to push.
“Throughout the sessions we saw big swings in performance, which shows just how difficult it was for everyone to get the tyres working properly. It’s a shame, because up until this session, it seemed our package could have been competitive in the midfield, but it will be hard to move up from here. From what we saw yesterday, that will be a big disadvantage. But we will do our best, as always, to bring home as many points as possible.
“It’s going to be a long and uncertain race, partly down to the weather forecast and we will try and make the most of any opportunity.”