You wouldn’t blame Sebastian Vettel for still being haunted by his performance the last time rain made an appearance during a Grand Prix. But the German insists he has no fears about dealing with similar conditions should they strike again this weekend in Belgium, thanks to recent Ferrari changes…
At the German Grand Prix, the penultimate round before F1’s summer break, Vettel was cruising to victory in front of his home fans. But then the weather turned the race on its head, and the Ferrari driver made an uncharacterised error, crashing into the barriers and wrecking his chances of a first victory in Hockenheim.
Then a race later in Hungary, the rain proved a problem for Vettel again - this time during qualifying - when Ferrari's dry-weather advantage was wiped out by deluges, leaving him only fourth fastest.
We have worked on the weaknesses in the wet and understood them
Forecasts for this weekend indicate the famously fickle Ardennes weather system could be set to deliver more downpours, but the four-time world champion wasn't going to lose any sleep over it.
“I think we’ve had our weakness in the wet,” he said. “We worked on those and understood those, so if we have wet conditions it will be quite nice to confirm and see if whether we have found the right things.”
The size of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and the nature of Belgian weather mean it can sometimes be raining on one part of the track and dry on another, and team mate Kimi Raikkonen is preparing for a wet weekend.
“Yes, I think it changes pretty quickly here,” Raikkonen said. ”We expected some rain today and it didn’t really happen. But if you look around it could rain at any point. We’ll see how it goes.”
Ferrari cool on engine progress
After rolling out their upgraded engine for customers Haas and Sauber in Hungary, Ferrari are slotting the new unit into their works cars for this weekend’s race.
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have new ICEs, while the former also has a new turbo and MGU-H, and both drivers displayed the Ferrari’s pace on Friday.
First Vettel topped the timesheet in FP1 before Raikkonen repeated those exploits in the second practice session. However the pair remained tight-lipped on the benefits of the new engine.
Vettel said: “I think it’s doing what it is supposed to do. We need to have a look but everything was working. Friday you can’t really tell, so we need to wait until tomorrow.
“Today, it’s a bit difficult to know already. And also next week. Monza is nearly a pure power track. We’ll see what the next two weeks bring. For now, everyone seems quite happy that the engine is doing what it’s supposed to do."
Raikkonen added: “It’s impossible to say, because it’s been three weeks since we drove and in a different circuit and with different downforce levels. The fact of the matter is that we would never put in a car something we didn’t feel was an improvement, going forward, so that’s it.”
Ferrari will be focused on regaining top spot in the constructors' standings this weekend, with the Italian squad trailing Mercedes by 10 points.