Spielberg bei Knittelfeld (Austria) (AFP)
The two red cars that crash into the first lap and give up: the pitiful image offered by Ferrari during the Grand Prix of Styria on Sunday is unfortunately only the symptom of deeper ills.
The analysis is from the boss of the Scuderia, Mattia Binotto, himself. "When you start in the middle of the grid, things happen, but that is no excuse, he reacted after the race. It was especially a very disappointing weekend which ended in the worst ways. There is no point in accusing anyone, you have to react and move quickly. "
Indeed, the unexpected second place for Monaco's Charles Leclerc during an inaugural GP in Austria on July 5 punctuated by dropouts should not hide the fact that performance is simply not on the track.
The sharp observation fell as early as the pre-season tests in February. "We are not hiding," admitted Binotto. "We are not yet fast enough to hope to win in Australia", which was then to host the first event of the season on March 15.
This decline, even though few regulatory changes have occurred during the off-season, is all the more questioning since it is concomitant with a confidential agreement between the International Automobile Federation (FIA), regulator of sport, and Ferrari following an "advanced technical investigation" on the functioning of its engines in 2019. Engines of which a number of competitors doubted compliance with the regulations.
- Punishment -
In the meantime, the coronavirus has been there, the season started more than three months late, during which the stables remained closed, and the Scuderia could not work as much as it wanted to rebuild.
Result, only seventh place for Leclerc in the qualifying of the inaugural 2020 GP on the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, an 11th for the German Sebastian Vettel, behind not only the usual opponents, Mercedes and Red Bull, but also McLaren, Racing Point and Renault.
Same punishment on the same circuit the following week, when qualifying for the GP of Styria. Despite a battery of changes made to the cars a week earlier than expected, Vettel is 10th, Leclerc 11th and penalized by three places on the starting grid for hampering an opponent on the track!
Light years from the almost perfect performance that had allowed him to grab the podium the previous week, the 22-year-old Monegasque again made a mistake from the third corner on Sunday, trying to overtake his teammate while he had no place.
- "Disaster" -
And so here is Leclerc taking off on a vibrator, tearing off the rear wing of Vettel and ending their respective races in what the Italian press describes Monday as "disaster".
Not the first besides, after their clash of Brazil last year, painful conclusion of a rivalry mounted race after race since the beginnings of the Monegasque in red in early 2019 and that Scuderia never seemed to manage to contain on track .
This time, Leclerc admitted having "fucked up" and apologized to his teammate in front of the television cameras. Vettel accepted them, ensuring that both are "mature enough" to put the incident behind them.
Still remains a "disastrous" image. One more ... The revelation by Vettel, on the eve of the Austrian GP, that his divorce from Ferrari in 2021 was not pronounced by mutual consent but unilaterally by the Scuderia had already been done.
As the reminders to the order of the FIA to the attention of the two drivers for breaches of the health protocol against the Covid-19. In question, images of Vettel discussing without mask with the management of Red Bull in the paddock and photos of Leclerc, without mask always, in the company of supporters in Monaco between the first two GP of the season.
© 2020 AFP