“In winter testing the car was not performing as expected.”
Mattia Binotto (Ferrari team principal)
Those words will sound many times inside the head of each Ferrari fans for hours, or maybe for days. Austria F1 Qualifying session states that Leclerc will start from the 7th position while Vettel didn’t manage to enter the Q3 (11th in the starting grid). From the very begininng of the free practise we see a Scuderia that was far from its best shape. As happened many times in recent years, Ferrari will face hard times in the first (at least) races of the championship. And the problems are not merely technical.
Controversial statement by management and Vettel.
The missed renewal of Vettel. Two versions of the facts, one truth.
A lot has been said about the new Ferrari drover line-up for 2021. When Sainz was announced to substitute Vettel, Binotto said that Ferrari and Sebastian didn’t converge to a common point and the separation was because of mutual intentions. Well, that was the truth before the drivers’ interview of Friday where Vettel revealed his disappointment for the missed renewal.
In fact, when Vettel was asked what the sticking point with Ferrari had been, he denied that there had been an issue from his side.
“It was obviously a surprise to me when I got the call from Mattia, when he told me that there was no further intention from the team to continue. We never got into any discussions, there was never an offer on the table and therefore, there was no sticking point.”
The version of Vettel was then confimed by Mattia Binotto, adding the Coronavirus situation and 2021 budget cap as motivation for the divorce.
About technical development of SF1000 in Austria. Two opposite statements in less than 24 hours.
“Impossible,” says Binotto. “We will appear with the same car as in Australia. There has not been time to develop, we are stuck on regulations. Everyone has been able to come up with things, but first they have to go to the test bench and the wind tunnel. I’d be surprised if some teams had developments, because we’ve all stalled”.
This version was subsequently “corrected” few hours later when after observing the upgrades brought by the rivals (in general all the teams) from the car seen during the Catalunya pre-season tests. This time, Binotto revealed that no major upgrades where made because the team was focusing the effort to fix the technical problems with massive updates in the Hungary GP. In fact, the configuration of the actual car was considered too compromised to take action on that.
The “revisited” version of Binotto, about SF1000 upgrades.
“What we are trying to do now is simply to step back, try to understand, reassess the problem and move forward later on. Our hope is to bring some developments already in Hungary, nothing before”.
Ferrari supportes may deserve a more fair explanation by a prestigious team as the Prancing Horse. But now, let’s see the technical difficulties of SF1000.
As we can see from the speed track recorded during the Qualifying session, Ferrari has problems to match the top speed of the competitors. The speed-trap shows a difference of more than 10 km/h with the Mercedes. A difference of about 5-6 km/h is also noticed in proximity of the finish line. As we know, an official statement was made by FIA about the PU (power unit) legality of Ferrari.
This could be one of the reasons for the lack of top speed of the Italian team. However, it may not be the most important. In fact, the speed gap tends to enlarge as the velocity speed raises. This behaviour is typical of a not aerodynamically efficient car. As you should know by our aero lessons, drag is proportional to the square of the speed V^2. To support this hypothesis, Binotto (assumed that we can still trust him :-) ), said that the main issue was an aero-correlation problems between the design figure and the winter testing.
Hard times for the Ferrari engine powered teams: Alfa and Haas.
The technical problems of Ferrari have also involved the partner teams Alfa and Haas which share the same power unit. It’s out of doubt that the difficulties of Ferrari have an impact also on the teams which are very close in terms of partnership with the Scuderia. However, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi were capable of fight back in terms of top speeds with respectively 320 km/h and 320.4 km/h (322.5 km/h for Hamilton). This analysis may confirm that Ferrari issue is more a aerodynamic problem rather than an engine problem.
Telemetry comparison: Ferrari vs Mercedes.
The following comparison was carried out by the GPs data on track of FP3. These results are similar to those of the Qualifying session. The top-speed which was one of the past year SF90 has become the weak point of the SF1000. Again, the speed difference between Hamilton and Leclerc becomes greater as the speed increases. SF1000 resulted to be a more stable and consistent car on the race pace. But the increased speed on the turns was not enough to compensate the gap on the straights.
2019 – 2020 lap time comparison. Team by team.
The following table reports the lap time comparison (2019 vs 2020) team by team. The engine-powered teams have recorded slowest lap time compared to the previous year. The Austrian track offered probably slowest track condition this year but on average, all teams have shown an improved performance except for Ferrari, Haas and Alfa Romeo. Red Bull has set the same time of 2019 but showed a very consistent pace, placing Max Verstappen in 3rd position. Stunning jump ahead for Racing Point (Mercedes 2019 model?) , Renault and McLaren.
Ferrari has sunk in the middle-field. Hard times to come for the Prancing Horse.