This weekend brings about the 9th race of the 2019 Formula 1 season and few would have expected to see Mercedes leading the Constructor’s Championship ahead of Ferrari by 140 points already. In the wake of the French GP, Formula 1 has found itself in the headlines yet again with the events at Paul Ricard Circuit described as ‘the worst of Formula 1’ and the season described as ‘the most impressive and boring season yet’. As we count down to Austria and the hope that someone can challenge Mercedes (come on Red Bull, this is your home race after all) it is starting to sound like a broken record but Scuderia Ferrari is expecting to be challenging at the front soon. So, what is the news bringing the Prancing Horse hope or even delusions of grandeur?
It sounds like the team at Maranello is willing to slow their car down to make it faster. Sunday saw Sebastian Vettel achieve his first fastest lap of the season at the Paul Ricard Circuit by beating Lewis Hamilton’s time on the final lap by 0.024s. However, it is going to take a lot more than a solitary bonus point for Scuderia Ferrari to challenge at the top.
Mercedes has maintained its 100% winning start to the season despite Ferrari coming close to victory twice in 2019. In France, the Tifosi would have been pleased to see that the 2008 Constructor’s Champions (yes it was that long ago) brought several upgrades with them. However, instant success was never the focus as the purpose of these upgrades was to plan the blueprint for the coming months and further technical improvements.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Team Principal Mattia Binotto told the media:
“I think we are looking for, eventually, more downforce to the detriment of the speed. Even if the car will not be too efficient…give more downforce to get the tyres working. That will be the direction to go.’’
Focusing on downforce is certainly an area which needs attention as anyone who witnessed Ferrari’s most recent qualifying would testify. At the Paul Ricard Circuit, the tyres took far too long to bed in and get up to speed and Vettel shared in France that he is aware how far behind Ferrari is.
"Our car is not yet strong enough and it’s down to us to improve. We still don’t have the pace to beat Mercedes, but I know that everyone at Maranello is working with so much positive pressure – and passion.”
Sebastian Vettel last won in Austria in 2011 and positive pressure and passion is certainly needed due to the fact Scuderia Ferrari must come up with something fast (pun intended) with Mercedes on the verge of another historical moment.
If either Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas crosses the line first and the decision stands (sorry Vettel) then the Silver Arrows would achieve what McLaren did back in 1988 – 11 consecutive victories! If this was to happen, it would also signal even further doom and gloom to come in the media and you have to wonder how much more of it the sport can take.