Ferrari says the first stages of the development of its 2019 car will be brought to this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix as it looks to unlock more of the SF90’s potential.
A strong pre-season was followed by a surprisingly uncompetitive performance in Australia, and although Ferrari bounced back to have the quickest car in Bahrain it struggled with reliability, with Charles Leclerc slipping from the lead to third place. The team also struggled to match Mercedes in China, but team principal Mattia Binotto says that Baku offers an opportunity to turn things around.
“Coming off the back of three races that definitely didn’t go the way we wanted, this GP is another important moment for us,” Binotto said. “We have prepared for it very well, analyzing all the data we have acquired up until now, looking at areas where we can improve and working on adapting the car’s set-up and the power unit management to the characteristics of the track.
“Baku features a very long straight, which places special demands on the engine, both the internal combustion part as well as the hybrid elements. It’s relatively easy to overtake on this track, partly due to the DRS, especially this year as it has a greater effect than in the past. The track surface is very smooth, which means tire wear is generally low, but as the tires therefore generate less energy, it can be difficult to get them in the right working temperature range.
“We know from past experience that there’s a high probability of the Safety Car appearing on track in Baku and therefore it’s an important aspect to consider when looking at the race strategy. We are bringing a few updates to Baku, as the first step in the development of the SF90.”
While Ferrari’s straight line speed has caught the eye – especially in Bahrain – Binotto says the signs from the Chinese Grand Prix suggest it is not a major advantage for his team.
“If you look at the speed of Mercedes (in China), I thought they were very strong as well, so maybe we should ask them how they are so good,” he said. “I don’t think there is much on the straights between us and the others.
“Baku is a circuit where you have got a different aero configuration, certainly, so I think it’s not only power units, it will be aero configuration we may choose for there. It’s not only the straight in Baku, it’s a lot of corners. It’s a city circuit, very difficult in that respect.”