The Sky Sports F1 pundits have had their say on Ferrari’s continued 2019 troubles after they were beaten by runaway championship leaders Mercedes and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in the Spanish GP.
Finishing fourth and fifth at an event they had already qualified 0.9s adrift of pole means Ferrari have fallen nearly 100 points behind Mercedes after just five races. Sebastian Vettel, the team’s expected title challenger, is fourth in the drivers’ standings, 48 points adrift of Lewis Hamilton.
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Once more, the Scuderia’s operations and decision making were called into question at Barcelona, with the team twice switching the order of Vettel and Charles Leclerc, in addition to experiencing pit-stop problems.
Asked by David Croft in response to questions from fans on Twitter about what Mercedes’ rivals needed to do to win again, Martin Brundle replied: “Find some power, some downforce, some strategy, and beat a world-class team operating at its finest.”
Paul di Resta said: “Mercedes’ dominance has absolutely been a step above any other grand prix.”
While Jenson Button added: “It’s difficult to beat them, and Ferrari is the team that will beat them in the future, I feel, but they’re finding it difficult to find that edge that Mercedes have.”
What went wrong for Ferrari in Spain?
Ferrari’s race had initially started promisingly enough with Vettel challenging the Mercedes pair for the lead positions into the first corner. But, on the outside of the three cars, Vettel locked up and flat-spotted his tyres, running wide in the process.
The German was overtaken by Verstappen and quickly lost touch with the top three, before Ferrari instructed him to let Leclerc through on lap 12.
Vettel pitted early on 19, six laps before Leclerc, and, on faster tyres, came back at his team-mate. The pair ran within one second of each other for eight laps, with Vettel then allowed back through on lap 36.
“The big thing for me listening to team radio was that the engineers were telling the drivers different things,” explained di Resta, who listened on in Sky Race Control.
“Sebastian’s engineer was well aware it was a different strategy, Leclerc’s engineer thought they were on the same strategy. That’s where the confusion is, and where Mercedes are masterminding them at the moment. They’re in a different league.
“The pressure is off Mercedes at the same point, but Ferrari need to do a better job in that sense if they want to take the battle to them.”
Yet, while their management of races has been consistently questioned, Jenson Button believes there is one fundamental problem for Ferrari.
“We can all pick at the mistakes they have made this weekend – which, surprisingly, have been quite a lot. But with Vettel’s move and lock up at Turn One, we would have all gone for that. It was the right thing to do,” said Button.
“The two pit-stop issues, and taking three or four laps to decide who should be in front at what time, these are all things that cost you race wins, of course
“But the underlying issue is the pace. You are going up against Mercedes, who have not made a mistake, and they both have very good pace throughout the race. You’re not going to beat them unless you’ve improved in every area.
“Every race they win and get a one-two, it really hurts Ferrari. They are such a passionate team and have such emotion there, and seeing those Silver Arrows stood up there must really hurt.”
What did Ferrari’s drivers say?
Vettel on Ferrari strategy
“In the beginning, it was clear Charles was faster, and once he was putting more and more pressure, I was happy to let him go. Second stint, I wasn’t aware we were on different strategies for a long time, but, once it was clear, I was let go and obviously a lot faster and tried to put pressure on Max.
“But with the Safety Car in the end it didn’t really matter.”
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