Ferrari admit that their qualifying performance for the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix is a true reflection of their current pace.
The Maranello-based squad have had a difficult season so far, but things went from bad to worse on Friday, when they found themselves rooted to the bottom half of the field.
Saturday morning got no better, with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel ending free practice three in 17th and 20th respectively, and while things did improve in qualifying, it wasn’t that big a jump with the pair ending up 13th and 14th.
But, despite being nowhere near the pace of their usual rivals, Vettel admitted after qualifying that this is the true pace of their car right now and they are struggling with a lack of engine power as well as having issues with getting the tyres in the right operating window.
“We need to stay strong and keep doing what we are doing as we knew this would be a tough weekend for us.” commented the four-time F1 world champion after qualifying.
“We lose quite a bit on the straights and this circuit has a lot of straights.
“We are also struggling to get the tyres working properly, however the race is long so you never know what might happen.
“In the end I think today’s result reflects our real level on a track like this.”
There is a good chance of a wet race for Sunday’s Grand Prix, but Vettel felt it wouldn’t increase their prospects much, saying “I don’t think the rain can change a lot but for sure we will be trying anything, also on strategy, to bring home some points.” however, Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies felt differently about that scenario.
“Thanks to a lot of hard work from everyone, today was better than yesterday, but it was not enough to fight with our usual competitors.” commented Mekies.
“We also went for an aero setup aimed at tomorrow’s race, when the rain could be a factor.”
Mekies also confirmed that the team struggled to get their tyres to work on Friday, but both Vettel and Leclerc managed to maximise the result, given the lack of grip.
“A very difficult qualifying with neither driver making it to Q3.” he said.
“This follows on from an even more difficult Friday, when we never managed to get the tyres to work properly.
“With very little grip, Charles, Sebastian and the team did what they could, turning the setup on its head to try and at least to get back to the performance level we had seen in previous races.”