Ferrari’s result in the Spanish Grand Prix provided the clearest picture yet of how much progress it has made over the past 12 months when comparing its performance to last season.
In Barcelona a year ago, Charles Leclerc was the only Ferrari driver to reach Q3 but was 1.5s away from pole position, and then retired from the race as Sebastian Vettel finished a lap down in seventh place. This year saw Leclerc qualify and finish fourth, halving the deficit as both cars remained on the lead lap in the race, with team principal Mattia Binotto says the result shows the team’s ability.
“Beyond expectations, I don’t know about that,” Binotto said. “We made a lot of progress and that’s good to see. The team have shown that they know they’re capable of addressing the weaknesses. Last year, we were lapped at the end of the race and more than 1.5s off pole, so overall the team really addressed some of the weaknesses.
“It will take time to become even stronger, but I think that this team is great and is capable. So, beyond expectations I’m not sure is the right answer but I’m pretty pleased because at the end, I think it’s a great result from where we were last year.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) May 11, 2021
As Carlos Sainz finished seventh, Binotto believes Ferrari has had the third quickest car for much of this season but has not been able to show it due to difficulties with the tires that it rectified in Spain.
“I don’t think it’s the first time (being third quickest), I think that in Imola it was the case as well,” Binotto added. “Bahrain was very specific because of the overheating of the rears. In Portimao, we made some mistakes with the overall tire management but I think that here (in Barcelona) at least we were focused on that aspect and we managed it well. It is good to see in the race we had the pace that we had.
“Obviously, when you are struggling such as in Portimao, there is always a lesson learned and the car set-up, car balance, the way you manage tires on track… So we made analysis from the data we had, discussing them with drivers, sharing with them the concerns and sharing with them the solutions. I think we reacted to put in place with our possible solutions coming here and I think we did pretty well.”