Scuderia Ferrari‘s team principal Mattia Binotto says the status on who will have the fastest race car will change from weekend to weekend, after the team failed to replicate their strong pace from Bahrain at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Ferrari were caught on the back foot by Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, who dominated all weekend to another one-two finish with Lewis Hamilton winning Formula 1‘s 1000th Grand Prix.
The Italian team, who has competed in the most GPs than any other team, weren’t able to fight with the Silver Arrows and were left to bring home a third place finish with Sebastian Vettel. Team-mate Charles Leclerc ended the race in fifth, after another team order was issued and strategy mishap cost the Monegasque driver dearly.
Binotto commented on the weekend in Shanghai, saying that the status and pace between Mercedes and Ferrari are changing every race weekend and expects to continue for the next few rounds.
“Mercedes has been fast throughout the whole weekend, since Friday,” said Binotto. “They were fast yesterday in qualifying and fast today.
“We had a completely opposite situation from the one we faced two weeks ago in Bahrain and this shows that we could again have things going the other way around in two weeks time.
“Things are changing from one weekend to the next and therefore we need to look at the championship thinking that every race may be different.”
During the early stages of the race, Ferrari gave Leclerc an instruction to allow team-mate Vettel through and give him a chance to chase down the two Mercedes cars, as the German felt he was much faster than the Monegasque driver.
Leclerc moved aside, but Vettel failed to close down the gap to second-place Valtteri Bottas, leaving Leclerc furious that his experienced team-mate couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity. The team investigated whether to switch the cars back round again, but the team call wasn’t made.
The strategy calls from Ferrari were confusing as the Italian team opted to leave Leclerc out longer than Vettel during the second stint of tyres, potentially bidding for a late safety car. But this compromised the twenty-one year old and allowed Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen through for fourth place.
Binotto said the decision by Ferrari on the strategy was to try and maximize the best result for the team and looks ahead to the next round in Azerbaijan, where he hopes the team can be strong.
“Our decisions on strategy were taken to try to maximize the teams’ result,” commented Binotto.
“We will go back to Maranello and look at all the data, try to understand what didn’t work this weekend in order to improve. We need to further develop the car and understand where the limits are, then come back stronger for Baku.
“It’s again a completely different circuit and we need to approach that race with a positive attitude to do our best.”