Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Ferrari admits it was ‘not gaining as much on the straights’ in Austin

2019 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Ferrari admitted its straight-line speed was not as strong at the Circuit of the Americas as it had been in previous races, despite denying it had made changes to its power unit following a recent rules clarification.

Team principal Mattia Binotto insisted Ferrari did not alter its power unit or change how they operate it in response to a recent FIA technical directive. He complained about “disappointing comments” after Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen suggested the team had been affected by the ruling.

However he conceded that the team wasn’t as strong on the straights in Austin as they have in recent races.

“It’s true that we were not gaining on the straight as much as in the past races,” said Binotto.

“But as well as that I think we matched our competitors in cornering, at least lap time in quali. So the trade off between grip limit and power limit has been moved this weekend.”

Ferrari’s run of six consecutive pole positions ended in Austin. Sebastian Vettel qualified second, two places ahead of team mate Charles Leclerc. However Leclerc could only finish fourth in the race while Vettel retired after slipping back quickly at the start.

“We were competitive in quali, now there is something in the race to understand,” said Binotto. “We need to understand what’s best for the next race again in term of trade-off.”

Vettel was just 12 thousandths of a second away from taking pole position. Leclerc, who had to switch back to the team’s ‘spec two’ power unit after a failure in final practice, was a tenth of a second down.

Binotto said Leclerc’s engine was “not down by quite a lot, it was slightly down, which was what we had expected between an upgrade of engines.” His engine has been returned to Maranello for inspection.

Leclerc, who finished the race over 50 seconds behind race winner Valtteri Bottas, said his car simply lacked grip.

“Overall there was just no grip,” he said. “I never found the grip with the tyres, simple as that. I can [explain] specifically corner by corner, but it wouldn’t make sense. Overall the car was feeling very, very poor and I never felt I got the tyres working so I was just sliding all around.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

44 comments on “Ferrari admits it was ‘not gaining as much on the straights’ in Austin”

  1. “But as well as that I think we matched our competitors in cornering, at least lap time in quali. So the trade off between grip limit and power limit has been moved this weekend.”

    people have been mentioning this since friday btw

    1. Of course! When you switch focus to grip – you finish 50 seconds behind P1, and you driver complains about lacking grip!

      Oh wait…

      1. at least lap time in quali

      2. Well, the old engine would also have helped get to those 50 seconds for Leclerc, wouldn’t it.

        1. Even Vettel was nowhere near RBR on the new engine.

        2. Well yes, as the old spec doesn’t have the fuel flow trickery…

          An engine change shouldn’t be nearly a second per lap deficit. A 2018 engine isn’t even a second of the 2019 spec. Unless one spec isn’t complient with the rules.

          1. Marcel, the thing is, if you then look at Leclerc’s lap times in the race against the two Mercedes and Verstappen, Leclerc’s pace shows a positive lap time trend – in other words, over the length of each of Leclerc’s stints, you can see a progressive worsening of his lap times. By contrast, the two Mercedes drivers and Verstappen showed a more neutral trend, where their lap times tended to stay within a more consistent band over most of their stint.

            In the case of the two Mercedes drivers and Verstappen, it looks like they had a relatively neutral degradation rate – in other words, the loss in performance due to tyre wear was offset by the reduction in fuel weight of the car, meaning their times stayed reasonably consistent over their stints and only worsened noticeably in the very final laps of their stints.

            Leclerc, though, seems to have had more of a positive degradation rate – in other words, the loss in performance he suffered due to tyre wear was higher than the benefit he got from the reduction in weight as fuel burned off, so his times started worsening earlier in his stints relative to those three drivers (a trend that Albon also seemed to show in that race as well – perhaps because his early stop and the fight through the field meant he worked his tyres that much harder).

            That positive degradation rate complicates things – whilst Ferrari might or might not have been engine limited, Leclerc’s lap times suggest Ferrari did have bigger problems with tyre wear than their rivals did that weekend. That, in turn, makes it plausible that Ferrari would try and compensate for that by running a higher downforce set up than they might have preferred to run.

            With that in mind, I would say that the assertion that Ferrari have definitely lost some performance is possible, but not conclusive on the basis of a single race alone – I think we will need several races to have a clearer picture.

    2. Shameful clickbait and bias. If you read what Binotto said elsewhere. Binotto said Ferrari ran more wing this weekend.

  2. Sure (≖_≖)

    I wonder where will the focus be switched in Brazil…

    1. Suspension

      1. suspense ;)

        1. suspicious!

          1. surprised!

    2. Survival

  3. quite a coincidence…

    1. Ya it’s a coincidence that Max has a chance of finishing ahead of both Ferarris in the WDC and team principle and driver both start shooting accusations at Ferarri to destabilize them..

      Ultimately we just don’t know for sure, but that doesn’t sell.

      1. I’m not saying it’s a coincidence that Redbull is accusing Ferrari…

        I’m saying that it’s a coincidence that Ferrari’s straight line speed vanishes at the same time the FIA issues a one-off directive. That’s the coincidence.

        It doesn’t matter who accused them. What matters is that there is a directive and suddenly Ferrari can’t access the the straight line speed that was there. I don’t think that calling it a coincidence is too much of an exaggeration.

        1. It is probably a coincidence, though. As much as i like to bash Ferrari every now and again, when you have a straight line speed advantage but are losing races, the first thing to try is adding draggy downforce.

          People seem to be forgetting that if RB were wrong about how Ferrari are doing it, they can still do it – and Ferrari are insistent they haven’t had to change anything, so, Occam’s razor, Red Bull didn’t figure ou t the trick.

          1. It’s pretty weird to make such a significant change to your cars aero when you’ve been top dog for 7 races, getting pole each time (Mexico being an outlier due to the nature of the tracks location) and only losing races due to tactical errors and driver errors.

            Like you said, it would make sense to do this if you’re losing races because of your package, and hell, maybe they were just trying something different for this race. One has to wonder why after they saw their relatively huge gap on Friday, they didn’t revert to the set-up that gets them pole by a significant margin, if that was the case.

            One race isn’t enough to determine whether or not it was a coincidence or not, but it sure seems suspect they suddenly gave up all their straight line advantage.

      2. Verstappen was closing in on Bottas earlier in the year, before the Ferrari guys were even close.

      3. At the same time Binotto is pointing fingres at Mercedes out of blind rage(complete 180 from his words before Austin).

        1. To be clear; nobody has accused Ferrari of anything. Red Bull (with knowledge of Mercedes) did ask FIA about a hypothetical device to manage fuel flow adjustments, which FIA declared illegal in a Technical Directive. This is a way to ensure that a ‘possible’ illegal action of a team will be halted without lodging a complaint. Teams in general don’t like to protest each other because this could harm the sport and cause friction.
          Max was a bit loose with his remark, of course he knew of the TD, but his directness can be too blunt for the political environment. Horner and Hamilton remarked in the same vein, but were much more diplomatic.
          Anyway, we don’t know if this really had an effect, but it sure ruffled some feathers.

          1. It might get a little too ugly between RBR and Ferrari. Since Ferrari have dragged Mercedes into this by pointing towards suspension on Mercs. Next few weeks are going to be fun to watch.

  4. Sometime I actually feel a bit sorry for Ferrari. Then I remember they live in Italy (which I love) so you can’t really feel that bad for them.

    1. sometimes I feel sorry for Ferrari, then I see them lapping Williams and think “well could be worse… much much worse.”

      1. you have no shame lol

  5. Yeah suddenly they want to match their opponents in the corners so they can be overtaken on the straights. That makes sense

    1. @anunaki Well yeah it does. If straight line speed was still THE trump card, Monza 1969 would not still be the final time a Car without any wings won a race.

      1. I was in the assumption Ferrari was running wings the last races since the summer break

    2. @anunaki It’s not as simple as that. Running more downforce also means that it’s easier to protect the tyres due to less sliding, which is something Ferrari have been struggling with all season.

      1. Ferrari did a clear step back for the 1st race since Hungary. Let’s see in Brazil

        1. @anunaki, mind you, it has been pointed out that there were unusually cold ambient and track temperatures at COTA this weekend. I believe that the maximum track temperature recorded during the race was 28ºC, with a significant proportion of the race being at track temperatures closer to 25ºC (the practise sessions were peaking at 25ºC track temperatures or lower).

          Compared to previous races, the conditions this weekend were probably some of the coldest conditions that the teams have experienced since the German GP. Ferrari have had a number of issues with being unable to maintain a consistent balance in tyre temperature across both axles this season – in those unusually cool conditions, it seemed to take longer for Leclerc to get up to speed in the opening stint of the race, and the way that his lap times started tailing off more quickly than his rivals suggests he had noticeable tyre wear issues as well.

          I know that a lot of people want to say that it must definitely have been the engine ruling as, in so many things, people seem to want to find a single “silver bullet” to something. However, a poor tyre wear rate and an attempt to compensate for it by bolting on more wing would also fit with with the lap time and speed trap data – not to mention that, at some circuits, sometimes it is more effective to be able to accelerate to your maximum straight line speed earlier on the straight than it is to have a high end of straight speed, but for your average speed over the length of the straight to be slower because you’re spending more time having to accelerate up to that maximum speed.

  6. So they, deliberately, set up the car to be 50 second slower (nearly a second a lap!). They gained nothing in cornering, yet lost a lot top speed. Very weird.

    1. It’s a true mystery.

    2. :D That’s what is called racing. Their car is setup to be effective at some downforce level. They are very efficient at it, but when they pile up more downforce they loose efficiency at little benefit + their tires nolonger work.

      Hence 50 or about 1 second per lap. Some of that was turning down the engine, not pushing hard, because they were uncompetitive etc.

      In quali they were up there, but when tires started underperformin they simply falled behind.

  7. Lacking some power there hey…

  8. High power is wasted if no control. They messed up with set-up and overall balance, compromising tyres too. Old matter of them…
    Seb suspension issue and Charles engine downgrade completed the weekend. Nothing to do with the fuel FIA clarification to me, here we’ve to wait for next race.

  9. Flow fuel gate. Ferrari is an obvious natural target in a brit centered F1. The circuus is also battlefiled of world car market players, do you think evrything come at daylight? Here an article cut of Alberto Antonini,appreciated italian journalist and former 3 yrs Scuderia PR writing today. He kept good relationship with everyone in F1, not FE only and release often inside-pearls. Sorry if bad translation.. google translator is to blame.. “I understand that a rival direct team of Ferrari (which is not necessarily Red Bull) has been challenged, before the summer break, an irregularity on the high-pressure pump downstream of the flow meter. As if to say that the jet of petrol, after having been regularly measured and calibrated, was manipulated again. There is talk of an accumulation chamber: and even if the subject is treated with gloves, as you can see, it is a bit too detailed to be a simple rumor. The FIA ​​would have rejected the solution, after having seen it, and the whole thing passed over in silence.” Highlight last sentence.

  10. Ah, so they admit it. They didn’t have to. You don’t gain speed without testing these days, or cheating. The speed went away as fast as it came. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

    1. Maybe you should read past that devious headline:

      “It’s true that we were not gaining on the straight as much as in the past races,” said Binotto.

      “But as well as that I think we matched our competitors in cornering, at least lap time in quali. So the trade off between grip limit and power limit has been moved this weekend.”

  11. Wcc & wdc over so maybe they are sandbagging to make other teams think they have discovered Ferraris trick

  12. It seems they tried to gamble a less speedy setup and it backfired spectacularly.

  13. Pineapple juice wasn’t that good than. FIA can permit bars around circuits.

Comments are closed.