Ferrari have ‘homework to do’ on race pace in Austin
Ferrari’s impressive six-race streak of pole positions could continue in Texas, but Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc suggested their race pace isn’t as dominant after Friday’s practice sessions.
Ferrari have only won half of the last six races, with Mercedes having taken the other three to clinch the constructors’ championship and ensure that either Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas would become drivers’ champion. The Scuderia know they face a fight to contend for the ultimate honours on Sunday.
“I think we started off well, the car felt quite good, but we struggled a little bit to improve it – we have to do so tomorrow," said Vettel Friday's running. "For one lap we should be there, thereabouts; race trim we have a little bit of homework to do.
Vettel finished second in FP1 but fourth in FP2 – and he expressed his optimism that Ferrari can nail their ‘homework’ ahead of Sunday’s race.
“I’m quite confident we can improve the car, that’s the most important and what we can focus on,” he said.
Team mate Leclerc, who struggled in FP1 with a throttle issue – that Team Principal Mattia Binotto later attributed to the bumpy surface – didn’t have the smoothest day, and it was Ferrari’s qualifying pace that he saw as the silver lining.
“I think [it was] a positive day, especially for quali pace I think we were strong today,” he said.
“FP1 I couldn’t show the real potential, the lap time was deleted [due to track limits] and a few things like this, and we had a problem, but overall we had a positive day. The race run though is not as positive and Lewis seems very strong on that,” he surmised.
So it’s clear where Ferrari’s weaknesses lie, but Binotto and his team learned the lessons from last time out in Mexico – and it could be their day in the United States for the second Grand Prix running if they sort out their race pace.