Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2019

Ferrari lost their “comfortable margin” in qualifying

2019 F1 season

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Ferrari have lost the edge they enjoyed over their rivals in qualifying recent races, Mercedes technical director James Allison believes.

Having taken every pole position in the first six races after the summer break, the red cars missed out on the top spot for the second race in a row in Brazil.

The previous round was the first since the FIA issued a technical directive clarifying how it interprets the rules governing the power unit. A further clarification emerged ahead of this weekend’s race.

That has prompted speculation that Ferrari has had to change something related to its engine, which has cost it performance. The team strenuously denied this claim after the previous race.

While Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari was quickest in the speed trap in qualifying, he was only 0.2kph faster than Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault and Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso-Honda. Leclerc went into the race knowing he would have a 10-second penalty for a power unit change, which means he has the benefit of a fresh engine for the final two races, and may have chosen to reduce his wing levels this weekend to aid overtaking, boosting his straight-line performance.

Allison said it was hard to draw any firm conclusions about Ferrari’s engine performance from qualifying, but said it was clear their performance advantage over a single lap in qualifying has been cut.

“They were still pretty useful on the straights,” said Allison on Saturday. “But not quite as marked as it was yesterday. That could be lots of things. We all run different power modes on Fridays.

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“I think probably the only thing that you could stand back from a distance and say is that it’s two races on the trot where it hasn’t been a pole position for a Ferrari and they sort of had a reasonably comfortable margin.

“So it’s an interesting thing but not anything you could draw solid conclusions from. They’re still a quick car on the straights, let’s just see how they are in the race tomorrow and how they are in the race to come.”

Max Verstappen took pole position for Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel, who will start alongside him, suggested the explanation is that Honda have gained performance, rather than Ferrari losing it.

“I’m a bit surprised by the speed that Honda had down the straight,” he said. “I don’t know where that came from.”

“We have been fast on the straights for the entire season, starting from the first couple of races, and we are still fast,” he said. “And they haven’t been and now they are. So I don’t know.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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17 comments on “Ferrari lost their “comfortable margin” in qualifying”

  1. Ferrari lost after technical directive and something they have been using, Red Bull gained because of technical directive and something they have found…

    Game on.

    1. Game on it is! I love the way Vettel is trying to frame it like Red Bull have found something, rather then Ferrari had to stop using some loophole (you know, the loophole no one must speak about).

    2. You are such a puppet … what a way to live your life, with a dodgy slimeball like Allison pulling your strings …

  2. I don’t think we’ll ever know if that technical directive really hurt them, but it certainly looks that way. Their car is still very fast but it doesn’t seem to have the performance edge it had a few races ago.

  3. Not sure if this is the best article to ask on but did anyone listen to Verstappens pole lap?

    The engine sounds as if it has a somewhat more tame form of the blown exhausts from 2011? Anyone reporting anything on this or has the honda always had that sound?

    1. Honda always sounded strange compared to the others. But i think the chassis is more sleeky and with the height makes that a fast car.

    2. Yeap Kasim, I noticed it. The noise it makes when off trothle really resembles blown exhaust era.

      But I believe this time we’re hearing something different, since there is no open path to exhaust valves to let the noise out. This time there is a turbine in the way of the noise.

      That misfire sound is strong with Honda since the beginning, even when they’re still not using the pre-chamber ignition.

      If you pay attention, Mercedes has it too, but way more muffled.

    3. The Honda has been gurgling while engine braking since its inception in 2015. It’s actually less pronounced this year than previous years.

  4. Vettel with his suspicions about Honda engine reminds me a thief who when being chased calls out: “Catch a thief!”

    1. So, everybody else can be suspicious about Ferrari, but not the other way around?!

      1. RebelAngelFloyd (@)
        17th November 2019, 14:46

        Vettel did a Trump-like reaction (“fake news / it’s not us, it’s them / turn around facts).
        This was not spontaneous, but an instruction of the Ferrari PR-dept.

        Ferrari has lost their very specific advantage, right after the FIA-directive.
        let’s see the coming races.

        1. That’s a Trump-like reaction? Trump invented it or what? Obivously just some oriented hatred. VOTE Trump, booo Obama and Clinton!! You can only see the real face of Obama and Clinton once you see their politics outside USA. They’re not much different than Putin.

          1. Comrade MG, I’ve come to relieve you. Go take a rest.

  5. Don’t think they lost any edge, cause it was barely any edge all season long. In many sessions, all season long, Force India or some other team dominated the speed trap. Also, if 4km/h more than main rivals means dominate, when that can down to setup and/or car design philosophy (which seems to be the case with Ferrari this year)…..

    1. RebelAngelFloyd (@)
      17th November 2019, 14:47

      the edge was’t their top speed, but the accelaration in the higher speed area.
      have al look at the earlier analyses of Keith.

    2. What a load of hogwash…Honda uses a bigger turbo than Ferrari and mercedes… bigger turbo= more engine power at altitude… they are at altitude for this race… the damn math instead of pushing forth nonsense conspiracy theories.

  6. Lol I cant stop laughing at the clueless idiots on the reddit f1 page actually defending vettel for crashing into Leclerc

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