(Motorsport-Total.com) – “I think we can draw some positive things from the weekend,” says Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto after the Russian Grand Prix. The Scuderia had brought a new upgrade package to Sochi, which shouldn’t necessarily bring a lot of performance, but should help the drivers to handle the car better.
In the case of Charles Leclerc, that seems to have worked out with sixth place. Sebastian Vettel, however, experienced the next difficult weekend. After an accident in qualifying he had to be content with starting position 15, in the race he did not make it into the area of points as 13th. “I’m not happy with the performance,” the German has to admit.
However, he doesn’t want to evaluate the progress in the race as he had to deal with a lot of traffic in the back field. “On Friday the new parts did what we expected,” he says. “It’s only a small step and doesn’t bring much performance, but we knew that. Hopefully we can confirm in the coming races that the pace is better.”
Charles Leclerc also says that he doesn’t actually notice much difference when driving. “But the data say that it is a small step forward,” said the Monegasse. At least the balance in the race was better than usual, which helped him to sixth place. “In Mugello I still had the biggest problems with that, but the car was nice to drive here.”
That has changed at Ferrari
Team boss Binotto is happy that Ferrari was significantly more competitive in Sochi than it was recently in Spa, Monza or Mugello. For him, this is not due to the upgrade. “That certainly helped, but it wasn’t the reason,” he says. He believes that the track characteristics suited the car better and hopes that this trend will continue.
The upgrade package in Sochi mainly consisted of changes to the front and rear wings. But Vettel’s accident during training also gave interested parties an insight into the complex nose, which was previously not so obviously in focus.
At the Singapore Grand Prix last year, Ferrari changed its nose and introduced a kind of plow edge next to the thumb-like tip of the nose to change the airflow. In Russia, this edge has been modified slightly to further improve airflow. The leading edge has been pulled down slightly to let more air into the resulting inlets.
Vettel accident reveals view
This means that Ferrari continues to rely on a complex wind deflector structure at the end of the nose and the underside of the chassis. Without Vettel’s accident, the changes in the area would probably have gone unnoticed, but the damage made it easier to observe the areas on the tow vehicle.
On the footplate level with the inside of the front tires, three rows of vertical deflectors can be found, overlapping one another and forming an L-shape when viewed from the front. Partner team Haas already introduced such a structure at the Spanish Grand Prix 2019.
The new rear wing offers a few features from the Mercedes DNA. The recess at the rear upper end has a few jagged corners while the thickness of the adjacent end plate has been reduced. The overhanging strut section now has two closed holes instead of the previous six slots.
Next update in the upcoming race
The upgrade is just a first part and is intended to fix some issues with the car before a major upgrade is due to appear. “I’m already looking forward to the next race, where we should normally have something bigger,” said Leclerc, announcing the next upgrade for the Nürburgring.
But team boss Mattia Binotto steps on the brakes again: “As Charles said, we will have a few more upgrades at the Nürburgring, but again nothing big.” And even if the development will be restricted in the future and a major rule change is imminent for 2020, you want to keep the focus on the current car.
“It is still important for us to develop the current car with a view to the coming year,” emphasizes Binotto. “We want to understand what’s wrong with him and get that under control for the future.”
For the rest of the season, the focus will be more on the diffuser. “But until when, that has not yet been defined,” said the team boss.
What gives hope at the Nürburgring
First of all, Sebastian Vettel’s home game is on the program. Which face Ferrari will show at the Nürburgring is not yet entirely clear to the team boss either. “Up until now we have focused on Russia, from tomorrow we will concentrate on the Nürburgring. However, engine performance is not so important, so power should be less critical.”
The weather, which is not exactly expected in October in the Eifel, could play a major role. “Maybe it’s wet or there are mixed conditions. That can shake things up,” says Vettel. “That should help in our position.”
“We hope we have found some competitiveness that will allow our drivers to at least fight for a better position,” said Binotto.