Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2021

Ferrari losing too much pace in traffic – Binotto

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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After a promising qualifying, where Charles Leclerc took pole, Ferrari say they only lacked race pace when running behind other cars in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Leclerc took pole during a heavily disrupted qualifying session. Team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr crashed heavily, bringing Q3 to a premature close, but qualified fifth.

During the race, Leclerc was passed by the Red Bull cars and Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes. He also lost out to Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly, ending the race fourth after Verstappen’s retirement and Hamilton’s error at the final restart.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted they “were expecting something better after quali”, though they foresaw a difficult start to the race on the soft tyre compound.

“We knew that on the soft we would have struggled,” said Binotto. “As a matter of fact, we struggled the most with the soft.

“I think on the hard tyres, when in free air, I think that Carlos’ pace in free air was representative. We were competitive.”

While Sainz’s lap times did not match those of leader Verstappen, who was running in the mid-1’45s, Sainz reached the low 1’46s. This compared well with the team’s main rival this season, McLaren, whose cars were lapping in the mid-1’46s.

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“Certainly we still need to improve our pace in the race, no doubt,” admitted Binotto. “But I don’t think that overall we were poor in performance today, when in free air. So we suffering the dirty air and that’s where we need to focus our analysis.”

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Pictures: 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Having lined up first and fifth and finished fourth and eighth, Binotto admitted it had been “a difficult race” for the team. “We have not been perfect in many areas and finally the result is what it is.

“But as usual, it may be a lesson learnt. There are things that we can improve. I’m pretty sure that reviewing the entire race, we will find areas of improvement and that’s important for us overall. I think it’s still a good weekend and we should keep our heads up positive.”

However Binotto drew satisfaction from overtaking McLaren in the constructors championship.

“We made the pole, which I think was outstanding, second pole in a row, showing the progress of the team and the car and finally, we are third in the constructors’ championship. Since the start of the season that never happened, it’s only by two points, but it’s showing that somehow we are progressing.

“So I think there are positives from the weekend but certainly, as I said, things to be learned. Now we’ve got three races in a row in the next weeks, which will be important again. So certainly the team will remain focussed on getting better in the future.”

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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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...
    Hazel Southwell
    Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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    7 comments on “Ferrari losing too much pace in traffic – Binotto”

    1. The most encouraging news from Ferrari is that Binotto finally has gotten rid of chief strategist Rueda. It remains to be seen what new strategist Ravin Jain can do when the pressure ramps as he’s only 26 years old, but then it could hardly get any worse.

      1. Can he rebuild the team?

    2. I think Ferrari has a decent season, Sainz seems to be more dialed in his new car than Riccardo or Vettel, Leclerc is very fast in qualy but was unlucky in Monaco and Baku has a 2,2km straight so with Ferrari engine nowhere to hide. I expect them to finish 3rd if they as a team are good operationally.

      1. Vettel however had a season of 2 halves so far, he had 2 top notch races after a disaster 4.

    3. Onward and upward Sir Binotto

    4. Really embarrassing to see the lack of engine power.

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