Ferrari believe they ‘won’t have pace to win’ after surprise pole

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies says the team does not believe it will be quick enough to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix despite Charles Leclerc starting from pole position.

Mekies believes their car was quick enough for the third row of the grid, but said they took advantage of a disrupted qualifying session to claim their second pole position in a row, with Carlos Sainz Jnr fifth on the grid.

“It was a very tricky session,” Mekies admitted. “I guess you can expect these sort of tricky sessions in street circuits like here but it really proved out to be very intense.

“Already from Q1 I think we had red flags every session, or nearly. I don’t think anybody has put in a perfect lap this afternoon. But it was important to put in good enough laps to go to the next step.

I think both Charles and Carlos had a very good pace. Probably better than what we had on Friday and Saturday. So it’s good to see that the team have progressed through the weekend to lift up our game in a track where we were not expecting to in such good conditions.

“I don’t know if [we had] the outright pace was pole, but then Charles put it on pole with quite a margin. And Carlos had the same pace so it could have gone any which way, it could have gone with both our cars up there or with both our cars probably in the third row.

“So I think it’s a good feeling to get the second pole in a row. It’s good for the team, the team is very focussed developing every race, building up every race. And it’s good to get this sort of results to to constructing what we are trying to construct.”

Although Ferrari took pole position for the previous race in Monaco, Mekies said this weekend’s success is “a surprise for us.”

“We were not expecting to fight for pole and to actually get the pole here with the long straights,” he explained. “We went for quite a low level of downforce, so very different altogether car configuration to Monaco because you run obviously very maximum downforce and we run quite low here.”

Mekies admitted Ferrari are “under no illusion that the race is different picture” to qualifying and they are likely to face significant pressure from faster rivals. “Red Bull was flying on the long run on Friday compared to us,” he said. “Lewis as well.”

“We expect a tough fight tomorrow because we believe we will not have the pace to fight for the win,” he added. “So it’s going to be a defensive race.”

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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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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8 comments on “Ferrari believe they ‘won’t have pace to win’ after surprise pole”

  1. Could it be their Quali mode is diffrent from their race mode?

    1. Can’t be, since special qually mode are more or less banned. It is all in the tyres. The Ferrari fires the tyres on very easily and quickly. But also runs out of tyres sooner. The long run of Leclerc were not very good on friday as be grained the rear tyres in not a lot of laps. I would be surprised if a Ferrari makes it to the podium.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      6th June 2021, 11:00

      It’s not quali mode – they’ve gone with a lower downforce setup which means they’re faster down the huge straight but they’re destroying their tyres. Both Mercedes and Red Bull could hold on to their tyres for much longer.

      The big question is after the setup change for Lewis to give him more one-lap pace, how will his tyres hold up in the race?

  2. Thats a fair assessment. Single lap pace improvements of the team are however encouraging and unexpected as I felt Ferrari had already written off 2021. Now they can get in the mix more often. Nice

  3. Pjotr (@pietkoster)
    6th June 2021, 9:57

    Happy to see Ferrari back. However there was a red flag which got them on pole on both times.

    1. They had the pace though, one of the most likely people to beat leclerc’s pole in monaco was sainz and in baku judging by the first lap performances of both drivers my ranking order for quali was ferrari > red bull > mercedes.

    2. Also happy as well to see ferrari back to performing well and not cause I’m italian, I like having 3 competitive teams and reminds me of 2018.

  4. Back then, Ferrari had a Global Elite, a Master Guardian and a Gold Nova.
    Now they have Silvers.

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