Mattia Binotto dissects F1 Mexico GP for Ferrari where he laments the lack of pace with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc echoing his sentiments.
For Ferrari, it was a disappointing F1 Mexico GP with their drivers finishing only fifth and sixth. Their pace wasn’t there. One may question the fact the Maranello team stopped their development earlier in the season with the title scenario shifting towards Red Bull and their chances looking slim.
On the other hand, we have Mercedes making great strides, still seeking their first win of the campaign, with the game on for second in the constructors’ race too. Mexico saw them bridge the gap after Ferrari had a slower run and Binotto was very open in admitting that the car just didn’t work well on the track.
“It has been certainly a very difficult weekend,” said Binotto to media. “It has been already in quali quite behind the pole position but normally in the quali we are quite competitive. In the race, it has simply emphasised the fact that we were not comfortable with the track this week and our overall performance has not been great”.
“No doubt of the pace in the race. The compromise both of them are mentioning certainly in terms of power unit, we were not at our best performance for the weekend. I don’t think that it needs explaining. That’s part of the equation. There is more than that. There is certainly more than that”.
“It’s something which we need to look at and there is not a clear answer right now. So, the ride was not great. The balance was not great. I’m pretty sure if I’m listening at the drivers in the debriefing, they will tell me that the car was not turning and the reason why. It has to be looked at and we have not a clear explanation right now,” summed up Binotto.
It was a head-wrecking weekend for Binotto, very much a sub par performance. Their star has waned a little since Red Bull really upped the ante with 10 wins on the bounce. Expanding more on the troubles, the Italian states that they couldn’t ascertain that their pace would be lacking by this much.
“We did not know that it would have been so difficult,” said Binotto. “After FP1 we didn’t realize it as well. It was only later in the weekend that we find out that the performance was not great. Maybe as well the FP2 and the tyre testing didn’t help us in order to address the weaknesses and the car setup”.
“At the end overall… first we didn’t certainly do a great job. The car certainly was not suiting ourselves but we were not expecting it. We hoped that we could have been certainly a lot better. Maybe competitive but it has not been the case. Already in Spa it has been very similar where we’ve been very slow”.
“There was some outstanding internal bad pace. Here, as well, very similar. It’s something which we need to look at and try to react for the last two races,” summed up Binotto, who noted that Ferrari may have got it wrong as well. They went to maximum downforce after trying to reduce it in FP2. Also, he stated that they couldn’t run maximum power.
“We were running maximum downforce at the end,” said Binotto. “We tried to reduce it on FP2, but then we went back on to the maximum downforce so we didn’t try to mitigate by downforce level. It’s as well that in terms of turbo, as you call it, maybe a little turbo. But yes, we are not as efficient”.
“Ferrari didn’t have the capacity at least to run maximum power here.” The drivers themselves had a tough day too as both Leclerc and Sainz are mostly racing for positions behind Max Verstappen in the standings and they will try to resurrect something at Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
It was some joy for Sainz after managing to out-qualify Leclerc and even beat him this weekend, but the lack of pace from Ferrari meant George Russell in the Mercedes even pitted late and set the fastest lap without losing position. The Spaniard felt good with the car and its balance but just didn’t have that pace to catch anyone.
“I think I drove a pretty good race but when you see the distance to the leaders there was not much more in it,” said Sainz. “We know the compromises we had to take for this weekend, we knew going into the race that we were going to be slow, but we maximised the points that the car could take”.
“At least on a positive note, we didn’t lose too much and we can focus on Brazil and Abu Dhabi where we expect to be back on the pace.” Leclerc who has had most poles this season, is still looking for a string of wins to show pace but it hasn’t come. He faced power unit issues on Saturday which left him behind Sainz.
“It was really lonely,” said Leclerc. “Just with Carlos, cruising until the end, way too slow for the guys in front; much quicker than the guys behind. So we just did our strategy, focused on ourselves, tried to maximise our package, which we did, but we are one minute behind the leaders”.
“So we need to understand why our up and downs… whenever we are in a down, it seems to be a big one. So we need to look into it in order to be a bit more consistent – even on our bad days. The gap was huge, but I don’t have the explanation yet. I believe we were losing quite a lot of time down the straights”.
“Whether this was where all of it was coming from, I doubt it, but we need to analyse everything and make a step forward,” summed up Leclerc. With two Grands Prix left, Ferrari will target at least one win. Their challenge at the moment is to keep ahead of Mercedes in the fight for second place.
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