Ferrari: Starting Chinese GP ‘too far away’ led to podium miss


Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur believes the Italian outfit’s subdued performance in qualifying in China set up its drivers’ for a challenging race on Sunday.

This season, the Scuderia kicked off its campaign with a solid run in F1’s first four races, consistently placing at least one car on the podium at every round, including a dominant 1-2 in Melbourne.

However, its productive streak came to a screeching halt in Shanghai, with F1’s return to China proving to be a reality check for the House of Maranello.

On Sunday, both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz fell short of a top-three finish, the pair clocking in a somewhat disappointing fourth and fifth respectively behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Sergio Perez.

Vasseur pointed to the Shanghai track’s new bitumen as a factor that may have hindered Ferrari, but the Frenchman especially singled out the team’s lack of preparation as the main cause for its inability to put itself in the mix for a podium on Sunday.

“No one had tested on this track and the situation was the same for us,” commented Vasseur. “It's true that perhaps the asphalt issue didn’t help, but it's not an excuse.

“We made some mistakes in the preparation phase and others did better . It's up to us to work to do better next time.”

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Vasseur noted that minor details have regularly upset the pecking order this season.

“Max is sometimes faster, but in any case, there are six cars within half a tenth or maximum a tenth . It's a matter of details and you can go from hero to zero.

“In Australia we were half a tenth ahead of McLaren, here they were faster”.


Ferrari’s sub-optimal preparations on Friday and Saturday unsurprisingly left Leclerc and Sainz just sixth and seventh on the grid. Furthermore, a bit of disorder between the latter in Turn 1 at the start of the race set both drivers back a position.

“Well, it’s not a good help to lose a position at the start, but at the end we are behind Perez and Norris at the start, and we finish behind them at the end of the race,” Vasseur added.

“I think if we lose something today, it’s more on the last stint. And if we miss something today, it’s to start from too far away on the grid, for sure.

“Starting from behind affects the race because even if you are faster, if you don't overtake immediately, you fall behind and wear the tires more. If there is something that didn't go well, it was qualifying.

“And today we were a bit less performant, I think, on the Hard than on the Medium. With the Medium tyres, everything was under control, while with the Hard tyres, we lost ground.”


In a bid to regain their podium-chasing form, Ferrari will be introducing performance upgrades to their SF-24 car at next month’s Miami GP, with a significant development package planned for Imola two weeks later.

But while Ferrari’s development programme will follow its course, Vasseur underscored the need for the Italian outfit to exploit its car’s full potential.

“It’s more a matter of extracting the best of what we have,” he said.

“And honestly, we are speaking about development, but first, as a team, we have to get the best from what we have. We didn’t do the job this weekend on this.”

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