Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

Ferrari don’t fully understand “outstanding situation” behind poor performance at Spa

Lap time watch: 2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Ferrari’s sporting director Laurent Mekies says the poor performance of their car caught them by surprise this weekend and they still don’t fully understand it.

The team were slowest at the end of final practice. Drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel salvaged 13th and 14th on the grid, but were eight-tenths of a second off Leclerc’s pole-winning pace from 12 months ago.

Mekies said the team found itself in “an outstanding situation” when it discovered how far off the pace its cars were yesterday.

“It’s still not fully understood,” he admitted. “It’s one of the things that happens, luckily very rarely, and a good engineering challenge.

“Yesterday we couldn’t get the get the car to work. It was a surprise. It took us off guard. We tried anything and everything between yesterday and this morning to get the car to work the tyre a bit better and to get the drivers to be a bit more confident with it.”

The team made a modest amount of progress overnight. “We did get something back, we did make some progress from yesterday to reach a position in qualifying where a bit more was coming out of it. So I guess that’s a positive.

“The negative being, of course, that we need to understand what’s the root cause of that, that put so much of the right window to start with. And also probably it’s a bit deeper than that. So we have to dig in properly to make sure we understand the root and don’t have to deal with that [again].”

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Ferrari has made no secret of the fact its power unit is not as competitive as it was last season. This is linked to the change in power unit regulations the FIA introduced arising from its investigation of the team’s power unit.

However at Spa, where the engines run wide open for 78% of a seven-kilometre lap, Ferrari was the only team which lapped slower than last year. Haas and Alfa Romeo, who also use Ferrari engines, are over eight-tenths of a second quicker than they were in 2019.

All the other teams have found even more time than that, however. Thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s record-breaking lap, Mercedes are over two seconds quicker. Williams, meanwhile, are a remarkable four seconds faster than last year.

Spa has seen the biggest year-on-year improvement in fastest overall lap time, which has fallen by 1.267 seconds. This is partly because Pirelli has brought a softer range of tyre compounds for this year’s race.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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2020 Belgian 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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7 comments on “Ferrari don’t fully understand “outstanding situation” behind poor performance at Spa”

  1. If you design a car around a very powerful engine and accept that the engine solves all the design problems. You will created a big problem when you have to remove the cheatmode and are confronted with the design as is.
    The next problem is when you tell the world you will change the structure of the organisation only to make some cosmetic changes.
    The one responsible for the engine design is the one running the team. So just solved the Ferrari puzzle for them.

    1. Mark this day on the calendar– you and I agree on something.

      Ferrari built their chassis with more drag, because they knew they had the engine to overcome it. Now they don’t have that extra power, so they’re suffering the consequences of that drag.

    2. yes, sky sports you are correct, it is just the engine, but keep telling me the same every 15 minutes.

  2. Karma.
    Ferrari “advantage” was eventually discovered.
    Now that advantage has been nullified.
    They are what they really are. Mediocre.

    1. @wildbiker Heck yeah, That said I’d rather see them finishing 3 or 4th just to see them suffer more.

  3. There’s a video on Leclerc 2019 x Leclerc 2020 at SPA. Watch it carefully a couple of times and you’ll change your opinion regarding the it’s only the engine argument.

    Williams have a monster PU behind them and still gets nowhere. It could be a choice of concept, a tyre heating issue, a CFD correlation, I have no idea. But so does Ferrari, it seems. The design Gremlins have hurt Mercedes (tyres) Red Bull (aero) and McLaren (we have the best chassis in the grid) in the past, but fixed it step by step with the people they have.

    Let’s see if the new management at Ferrari is strong enough to give the team time to turn things around. Or we may see just another shuffle of cards.

    1. Only Facts!, well, you can understand why some will be thinking that given that both works Ferrari cars are a lot slower down the straights than they were in 2019.

      Leclerc has lost 11.1kph (342.0kph in 2019 versus 330.9kph in 2020), whilst Vettel was 12.5kph slower (343.6kph in 2019 versus 331.1kph in 2020). The Alfa Romeo and Haas cars have also noticeably lost speed too – not quite as much, but they’re both about 6kph slower too, even though Alfa Romeo looks to be running a lower downforce configuration this year than they were in 2019.

      As an aside, Williams weren’t actually that slow in the speed traps last year – they’re basically about the same speed in 2019 and 2020 (332kph).

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