It was a complicated Australian Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari, although it still managed to pick up 22 points that will be important for the championship, with both its SF90s seeing the checkered flag. However, the team had to accept that it was not in condition to fight for the podium positions. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and Charles Leclerc, on his race debut with the Scuderia, was fifth.
Sebastian and Charles both got good starts, with Vettel able to get alongside Hamilton’s Mercedes. Leclerc got past Verstappen in the Red Bull. But he put two wheels on the grass at the first corner. Then he had to give back the position to the Dutchman.
In the early stages, Sebastian was able to keep a good pace. Meanwhile, Charles made a mistake on lap 8 and lost ground to Verstappen. On lap 14, Vettel pitted, switching from the Soft to the Medium tyres. Leclerc stayed out until lap 28, when he fitted the Hard compound tyres.
In the second stint, the car on Medium tyres didn’t perform as expected. So Sebastian had to manage the rubber for the rest of the race. Charles could run a good pace. In the final stages, he closed on Vettel. But the team decided the drivers should hold position, given that the cars ahead were too far away. An assault on the podium was unlikely.
“We were not happy with the car the whole weekend but [on race day] we struggled a lot. The reason I was so slow in the race was mostly due to the fact that the car could not find enough grip with the medium tyres that we fitted at the pit stop. As a team, we still got a decent amount of points from our fourth and fifth places, but this is not the result we were aiming for just a few weeks ago. So in the coming days, we will analyse the data in detail so as to be ready for the next race, which is not far away now. I’m sure that looking at all the information we have gathered here will give us a better understanding, but the result we got was the best we could do.”
1 Check out that rapid start from @ValtteriBottas ?
2 How close did those Ferraris get?!? ?
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 17, 2019
“I made a good start, to the extent that I managed to pass Verstappen. I found myself alongside Sebastian, who was fighting a Mercedes. That meant I had to put my wheels on the grass at the exit of the first esses, which allowed Max to get in front of me again. At the start, the car was not so easy to drive. That led to me making a small mistake at the first corner, which cost me a handful of seconds. We decided to fit the hard tyres at the pit stop and, I have to say, that from then on, the car improved a lot and I was able to push.”
“Towards the end, I closed on Sebastian, but the team decided to keep our positions, given that the top three places were not within our grasp. Now, we will work with the engineers to try and understand why we were not as strong as we had hoped to be, even though we brought home a good points haul.”