Azerbaijan GP an important moment for Ferrari - Mattia Binotto
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix marks an “important moment” for Ferrari as it prepares to bring its first updates of 2019, according to team boss Mattia Binotto.
Ferrari has yet to win a race this season after failing to match Mercedes in Australia and China, while a strong display in Bahrain went unrewarded in the wake of Sebastian Vettel’s spin and the engine issue that afflicted Charles Leclerc’s car.
It has left both Vettel and Leclerc over 30 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ championship while Ferrari already trails Mercedes by 57 points in the Constructors’ battle.
Azerbaijan’s Baku City Circuit is one of only three venues on the current calendar – Sochi and Yas Marina are the others – where Ferrari has yet to win, a statistic it is keen to address this weekend.
“Coming off the back of three races that definitely didn’t go the way we wanted, this GP is another important moment for us,” said Binotto.
“We have prepared for it very well, analysing 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.
“In fact, Baku features a very long straight, which places special demands on the engine, both the internal combustion part as well as the hybrid elements.
“The track surface is very smooth, which means tyre wear is generally low, but as the tyres 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.”
Leclerc dominated the 2017 Formula 2 weekend and claimed his best 2018 result, sixth, at Baku.
“Azerbaijan is one of my favourite tracks of the season, I simply love it and I’ve always performed very well there,” he said.
“I always enjoy driving on it, especially the castle part with all those tight corners. It’s a unique track, you cannot find anything like it anywhere else in the world, so it’s pretty special.
“The rule is quite simple: never lose focus during the race otherwise at the first mistake you’re in the wall. Baku is a demanding track, but I can’t wait.”