Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Ferrari are 0.7 seconds slower than last year in China

Lap time watch: 2019 Chinese Grand Prix

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“We had it,” lamented Sebastian Vettel on his Ferrari’s radio after being told he’d qualified third for the Chinese Grand Prix.

“We had it,” he repeated. “We know why, though. We know why.”

Ferrari went from locking out the front row of the grid in Bahrain to being bumped back to row two by Mercedes this weekend. Vettel obviously thought they could have done it, and it’s not hard to see why he’s mystified about where their pace has gone: The SF90 was three-quarters of a second slower around the Shanghai International Circuit than its predecessor.

And the red squad is far from unique in this respect. In fact the majority of teams – all bar Alfa Romeo, Toro Rosso and Mercedes – are also slower than they were 12 months ago.

Pirelli’s softest tyre this weekend is the C2, which it describes as comparable to the ultra-soft which was also the softest tyre at this race last year. However F1’s official tyre supplier did make an overnight change to its minimum tyre pressures, forcing teams to raise the rear pressures by 1psi to 19.5psi, which may have presented some teams with new set-up problems.

Only Williams made a bigger step backwards than Ferrari compared to last year. The FW42 is 1.1 seconds off its predecessor at this track:

Valtteri Bottas’s pole position time is almost half a second slower than Vettel’s from last year.

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Unlike in Australia and Bahrain, the track record has not fallen this weekend:

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2019 Chinese 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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20 comments on “Ferrari are 0.7 seconds slower than last year in China”

  1. I had the distinct impression they turned down the engine again…..something just did not feel right….but…if it is true pace… looks like it could be a Bottas vs Hamilton year.

    1. I think they lost most time in the final sector, with the long straight. So turning down the power would explain a lot. Also perhaps Vettel’s comment “We know why, though. We know why.”

      1. Yeah, that’s explain why they’re fastest on that straight with 3 kph advantage to the nearest other car. Silly conspiracy of Sky level. They somewhat struggle with slow speed corners, that was apparent in Australia and here with them losing time to Mercs in third sector, despite beeing much faster on the straight they lost everything in the next two corners.

    2. I had half a thought that Ferrari had at least turned down LEC’s engine… but that would only appeal to conspiracy theorists… lol.

  2. digitalrurouni
    13th April 2019, 17:43

    Why does pirelli keep messing around with tore pressure right before the qualifying?

    1. That’s because they simply don’t know how their tyres will behave in each track. They do however have a clear picture after the third practice.

      1. But the practice is for the teams to learn the tyres not the other way around. Im getting tired of these Pirelli changes all the time.

        1. Agreed, a bit fishy and it must be very annoying for the teams these late changes.

          1. We all know it’s all intended to thwart Ferrari.

  3. Lets hope Ferarri opted for a race day setup rather than a qualy setup

  4. I think Rosberg in his vlog was right. Ferrari is just too fast in the straight that they mess up the aero and doesn’t look to knew how.

  5. The first time this season so far that the 2018 pole time didn’t get beaten by anyone. Both in Australia and Bahrain, at least one driver managed to better the fastest 2018 race weekend lap time, but not this time around for some reason.

  6. This is one of the things I find annoying about formula 1, far too much of the overall performance seems unrelated to the car. Type pressures, tyre substance and air temperature seem to have more influence than what type of engine or driver the car has.

    1. Its kinda like when airplanes performance is more down to the type of wings and the air they fly in than the pilot, im getting sick of it all.

    2. @emu55 It has less of an impact than it used to years ago.

    3. @emu55 Then why is the pecking order still broadly the same? The car & driver combo are the defining factors.
      Tyre pressure instructions were the same for everyone. So not really a performance differential.

      1. BlackJackFan
        14th April 2019, 2:56

        Is it not possible for tyre pressures to affect different cars differently…?

  7. Sooo this is why Haaaas didn’t run a hot lap at the very end.. /s

  8. Pirelli’s softest tyre this weekend is the “C2”.

    Shouldn’t it be C4??

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