Italy’s motorsport media was once again scathing of Ferrari’s performance at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as the Scuderia were powerless to prevent Mercedes securing yet another one-two finish in Baku, with Valtteri Bottas leading Lewis Hamilton home for the Silver Arrows.
Ferrari once again entered a grand prix win hoping to utilise their supposed pace advantage over Mercedes, only to see things slip through their fingers.
Charles Leclerc had looked a cert for pole until he smashed into the barriers in Q2, while Sebastian Vettel was tricked into running without a tow in Q3, with Mercedes locking out the front row.
Ferrari took a safety-first approach, amid struggles on the soft tyres, with Vettel and Leclerc coming home in third and fifth respectively – the Monegasque having led much of the race on a long opening stint, which ultimately ended somewhat drearily.
Although Vettel was on the podium for a second race in a row, Gazzetta dello Sport said: “This was a Sebastian Vettel that was not as explosive. His podium was a small consolation.”
La Repubblica added of Vettel’s performance: “Vettel has become a champion of regularity for better or for worse: in the sense that nothing has risked and he has taken the points, perhaps even thinking about last year’s lesson, with thoughts of the type ‘better to take points than to end up retired’. Now Formula 1 arrives in Europe, and we start in Spain: but the question is whether the world title fight is not already closed.”
Leclerc appeared to have a chance to take soft tyres in mid-race and have a crack at the top three, but Ferrari left him out until 16 laps from the end – only to then pit him again to take the fastest lap.
Tuttosport said of the Monegasque: “Leclerc fought like a lion to use his tires to the last before the pit stop.”
Corriere della Sera were far more negative, however, as Mercedes’ fourth one-two finish to start the season set a new F1 record: “The overwhelming power of the Silver Arrows sharpens the regret for the premises of a promising machine.
“Ferrari is not far away, Leclerc is there but the team needs more than a few laps fast from Sebastian. A record, a continuous, deafening party, unbearable for those who think, speak and live as a Ferrari driver.”