RACE DEBRIEF

    Ferrari went into the French Grand Prix weekend knowing that they faced an uphill struggle to dethrone the downforce-dominant Mercedes around the Circuit Paul Ricard. Thanks to Charles Leclerc, they came away from France with a third place – but the team are anticipating the possibility of reaching even greater heights at the next few Grands Prix on the calendar…

    The first of those will be this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, taking place on the short but deceptively power-rewarding Red Bull Ring up in the Styrian Alps which, with the lap beginning with three long-ish straights, could play to the potent Ferrari SF90’s strengths.

    And with races after that at Silverstone – where Sebastian Vettel triumphed last year – and Hockenheim – where Vettel would almost certainly have triumphed last year, had he not crashed out in greasy conditions – Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto was cautiously optimistic for his team’s chances in the next month and a half of races – while hinting at a potential fix that could get the team back on terms with Mercedes…

    “We are continuously understanding better our car, we've got some ideas,” Binotto told the media in France. “We’ve seen, as in Canada, even the [advantage between Ferrari and Mercedes at different] races and circuits is different and we may expect even better circuits for us in the next races.

    “But on top of that, we know we need to develop and improve the car. A few races, not much, and I think we should have something on the car which, at least, is addressing part of the situation.”

    2019 Spanish GP

    We are happy to be getting back on track so quickly, because it’s the best way to put ourselves to the test again to try and understand the elements that did not go according to plan in France

    Mattia Binotto

    Looking ahead to Ferrari’s programme for the Austrian Grand Prix, Binotto said: “The Austrian track is very different to Paul Ricard. The first sector has long straights and braking in a straight line, while the second part is tighter, with a mix of low and medium-high speed corners.

    “We have various test items to evaluate, mainly in order to give us a clearer picture as to why some of the updates we brought to Le Castellet did not work as expected.

    READ MORE: Why France proved inconclusive for Ferrari and Renault upgrades

    “We are happy to be getting back on track so quickly, because it’s the best way to put ourselves to the test again to try and understand the elements that did not go according to plan in France.

    “The forecast is for very hot conditions, so it will be a demanding weekend on the cooling front, both for the engine and the brakes, which means tyre management will also be very difficult.”

    If Ferrari can break Mercedes’ stranglehold on wins this weekend, that will be a welcome relief to the tifosi, who after watching the Silver Arrows claim their eighth straight victory of the season at Paul Ricard, have seen their beloved Ferrari fall 140 points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ standings. But as Sebastian Vettel says, the Scuderia are even more fired up after France...