Ferrari drivers defend recent race results

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc have defended the squad’s recent results, outlining that it has made substantial strides in 2019, with Mercedes remaining the benchmark.

Ferrari has taken nine pole positions to Mercedes’ eighth in 2019 but has fallen behind 13-3 in terms of victories, with Ferrari failing to convert its last three qualifying triumphs into race wins.

Vettel, though, has stressed that Ferrari has unearthed gains through this season and that a lot of the pace differential is down to its use of tyres.

“I think in terms of race pace it’s pretty clear,” said Vettel.

“In qualifying we find ourselves in a good position. Obviously at the last race Max [Verstappen] was on pole by quite a bit but overall once again we were more or less fighting for the front row.

“In the race we concede that we drift back a bit and we can’t confirm that strong pace over one lap with fresh tyres in the race with many, many laps.

“There’s still some work to do with the weaknesses that we’ve been facing all year. I think we’ve closed the gap but in the races there’s still a bit of a gap

“I think after [Singapore] if you recall the races then obviously in Sochi my car broke down, otherwise it would’ve been a 1-2.

“I think in Japan ultimately we didn’t have the pace and when we don’t have the pace, the ultimate pace, you get beaten one way or the other in the race. Maybe similar in Mexico.

“I don’t look at the glass half empty. I look at it half full. I think we are in a much stronger position in the last couple of races than we’ve been before that.

“Have we closed the gap entirely? I don’t think so. I think in qualifying we know that we are very strong, and I think the new tyre allows us to mask certain areas where we’re weak.

“Whereas in the race we don’t have new tyres every lap, we obviously haven’t got enough tyres! But yeah, I think we are falling behind a little bit and I think Mercedes are still the benchmark in the race.”

Leclerc has taken a season-best seven pole positions but has only converted two of them into victories.

“I believe on my side, I’ve not been perfect for sure, especially in the race,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of improvements to do on my side.

“I believe that in Mexico, I have learned actually quite a lot. Obviously from the outside it is quite difficult to see, but on the driving style and things, I tried quite a lot of things during the race, and I have a clear idea of what to try here.

“Then we’ve been unlucky in some races. Obviously I think Sochi could have been another win, but we could not control the failure of Seb which created a Virtual Safety Car, and then it went downwards.

“So there have been a few missed opportunities, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks.”