Heading into the 2020 F1 season, Scuderia Ferrari already suspected that they are on the back foot. However, Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix gave Ferrari a first real indication of just how far behind they actually are. In light of this revelation, team principal Mattia Binotto is resigning himself to a “very difficult” season if Ferrari cannot solve its straight-line speed crisis.
Qualifying was a nightmare as Sebastian Vettel ended up outside the top 10 and Charles Leclerc could only muster 7th. To make matters much worse, Leclerc was almost one second slower than Mercedes’ pace.
Fortunately, the Monegasque driver Leclerc battled his way to second despite embroiling himself in the midfield. Last year, many declared that Ferrari had the best power unit, so this year is a giant leap backwards. In fact, all three Ferrari-powered teams have suffered a big drop in pace compared to 2019.
Some suspect that the saga behind Ferrari’s 2019 engine row could be a reason behind the drop-off. Team boss Mattia Binotto can take small comfort in the fact that Ferrari is expecting a significant update package for Hungary.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, he said, “We need to improve our car, as there are some miscorrelations with the design, the car behavior, especially on the aero.
“That’s a development we have started again, coming back from the lockdown, and hopefully we have very soon at the race track.
“If I looked at yesterday’s qualy, compared to the pole, we are missing a second.
“Of the second, three-tenths in cornering, in what I was just speaking about. But then there is still seven tenths on the power unit on the straights.”
Binotto even spoke about the near 1-second abyss between his team and Mercedes in qualifying. He suggested that the loss of at least seven-tenths was down to the power unit alone. The Ferrari team boss addressed the SF1000’s lack of speed on the straights.
To make matters even more embarrassing, Leclerc’s Q3 time was nine-tenths slower than his 2019 pole lap. However, he dismissed the comparisons to the 2019 car and wanted to focus on their rivals.
“Honestly, I’m not too worried looking at last year,” Binotto said. “I think the comparison should not be to last year, but compared to our competitors. Now we are focussed on our relative competitiveness to our competitors, looking at the qualy lap and the result today, and try to address the issues of our cars.”