Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2016

Vettel puzzled by Ferrari performance slump

2016 United States Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel admitted he was unsure why Ferrari has not qualified as well this weekend as they did in Japan.

Both Ferrari drivers out-qualified the Red Bull pair at Suzuka, but Vettel questioned why more of that performance wasn’t evident at the Circuit of the Americas.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Circuit of the Americas, 2016
United States GP qualifying in pictures
“For sure in Q3 I could have done a slightly better lap, but at the end of the day obviously we are missing a bit compared to the cars in front,” said Vettel.

“Probably in my last lap I was a bit too aggressive. There remains a bit of a question mark at this point, at least on why we were so competitive in fast corners in Suzuka and here we are missing out; but then again we are missing out across all sectors.”

Vettel will started tomorrow’s race from sixth on the grid, one place behind team mate Kimi Raikkonen. Both will use super-soft tyres at the start while three of the four cars ahead of them will be on softs.

“There’s always a chance to outsmart the people but I think we have to react on the fly,” said Vettel, who missed out on a podium finish in Japan when Lewis Hamilton jumped ahead of him in the pits.

“The strategy is set for the beginning, in terms the tyres to start the race with, but we kept some new tyre sets, so we’ll see. It could be an interesting race: tyre degradation is always important, it could be playing a big role tomorrow.”

2016 United States Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 16 comments on “Vettel puzzled by Ferrari performance slump”

    1. I think Vettel was too hard on his tyres in the begin of the lap so at the end they dropped off. I wasn’t very impressed with Ferrari at all this weekend.

    2. Oh sure, he’ll be fine since strategy is Ferrari’s strong suit…

    3. Are the recent results a rise in form for Kimi or a series of stumbles from Seb, I wonder? And if this trend continues, how long till the love affair with Ferrari becomes stale? Ragazzi? Mama mia? Fettuccini?

      1. @floring
        My impression is that Räikkönen’s results aren’t overwhelming, either. It’s Vettel whose form seems to have collapsed. He’s slightly underperforming weekend after weekend, while Räikkönen has stagnated more or less on the same level as in 2015, but with fewer errors.

    4. Intresting to say the least, but I call it on many breaking zones.

      Both Mercedes and especially Red Bull are excellent under breaking.

      Same reason Hamilton was better than Rosberg. Rosberg Q3 lap was excellent… But there is also Lewis Hamilton level of excellent on a circuit with loads of breaking zones.

      So despite Ferrari having a good engine, good corner speeds, over a lap RBR is better.

      Also very important at CoTA is soft setup, ability to glide over terain while not loosing downforce. Another RBR advantage.

      We will see today in the race, RBR probably almost matching Mercedes, and after the race people blaming Ferrari strategy.

      In reallity right now there is Mercedes and RBR chassis, and then there is Ferrari and then there are everyone else.

    5. Ferrari – where drivers go to die.

      1. Schumacher? PHil Hill? John Surtees? Raikkonen?

        Villeneouve and Pironi though, then yeah, they didn’t make it out of Ferrari intact.

        1. I mean now. Alonso, Vettel. I think the reason Raikkonen is performing well now is because he had his contract renewed rather than the sword of Damocles wielded over his head.

          At the rate Ferrari are going, they’re going to be a mid-field team where drivers go to gain some kudos before they retire. I am a staunch Ferrari supporter but I’ve watched them spiral into a pot of Italian-only spaghetti and meatballs since the end of the Brawn / Todt era.

          It’s been nine years since Ferrari won the Driver’s Championship and it doesn’t look like the next one will be anytime soon. In fact, it seems to be getting further and further away.

          1. @daszilch you’re right. But after the 3 victories in 2015, and all by Vettel, the future looked more promising. I know that just Malaysia and Singapore looked as really won by Ferrari (Hungary was more the result of a chaotic race) but I thought the trend was going to keep going, that they were going to be able to keep momentum. But oh, this year Ferrari messed up with Australia and Canada, probably the 2 best shots they had to stay in the right path. No wonder why Vettel is driving angry. He knows that every time he had a chance to get a victory this year, it’s his own team who clips his wings. And this situation is getting on everybody’s nerves in Ferrari. But they should stop their blaming games. Keep low profile and work for 2017.

          2. @daszilch, most of the traditional powerhouses of the sport have now gone for extended periods of time without taking either the WDC or WCC and have gone into even steeper declines in fortune than Ferrari have in recent years.

            Just consider that Williams, the team that once had crushing dominance over the sport and was still a major title contender until the mid 2000’s, have now gone 19 years without a title (even their last win is about four and a half years ago) and are struggling even to hold onto their title of “best of the privateers” now that Force India have overtaken them in the WCC.

            McLaren, meanwhile, have gone for almost as long as Ferrari without taking the WDC and even longer without taking the WCC (last won back in 1998) and, last year, put in their worst WCC performance for 35 years (the last time they were 9th was in 1980) – even improving to 6th in the WCC this year would still be their worst performance since 1981, somewhat tempering their optimism.

            Set against that, has Ferrari’s performance really been quite that bad? Yes, they have fallen back somewhat compared to their form in 2015, but at the same time they’ve still maintained a level of competitiveness that most teams would wish to have and have generally been more consistent in terms of their relative competitiveness for the past few years than some teams.

            People make scathing comments about the team being too nationalistic, but the reality behind the scenes suggests that the team is much more multinational than it is made out to be. Similarly, people mock Ferrari for not doing much with their large budgets, but the figures being put out suggest that Red Bull and Mercedes are both outspending Ferrari by a relatively substantial margin (around €50 million a year, or over 10% more than Ferrari).

            1. My point is that from where Ferrari are now, and their approach, their trajectory is downward-facing.

              A quick sniff on the internet tells me around 75% of Ferrari’s key personnel are Italian. They have made it very clear they have no interest in broadening their horizons and wish to keep the team as Italian as possible, likening it to the national football team.

      2. McLaren is where drivers go to perish.

    6. All ferrari powered cars performed below their Suzuka form. I think there’s got to be a connection here. COTA has a higher diversity of corners. Poor brake-by-wire might be a factor, for instances Button hinted that the Mclaren was really strong on braking and there’s not that much of it in Suzuka, also the Ferrari powerplant may not be the best packaged and light PU, something that should have a higher impact on slow and medium speed corners, as aero is less reliant there. Finally there could be a suspension system shortcoming as the track asks for a wider range of corners and also the track surface is much different.

    7. I think only Lewis can make Ferrari great again.

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