Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is confident that the team’s upgrade package for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix did not contribute to the Sebastian Vettel’s struggles to keep pace with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in a race that was dominated by Mercedes.
Vettel had to settle for third on the grid behind the Silver Arrows, after Ferrari were tricked into releasing the German into clean air on his final Q3 run – with Bottas taking pole thanks to a handy tow down Baku’s huge main straight.
Come Sunday, Ferrari’s apparent straight-line advantage was nowhere to be seen as Vettel struggled on his opening soft-shod stint – something he said was the “dominating factor” in the Scuderia’s wider struggle to keep up with Mercedes in 2019.
The SF90 was furnished with its first major upgrade package in Baku, but Binotto is certain that it did not have an adverse impact on performance.
“I think it’s nothing to do with the upgrades or the overall, let me say, performance of the car,” Binotto said when quizzed on Vettel’s assertion.
“Certainly managing the tyres is not easy, this circuit is a very difficult circuit related to tyres, due to the very little level of energy you’re putting into the tyres.
“Bringing temperature into tyres is difficult, the window somehow maybe very little – I think generally speaking it’s not easy to manage them, but not related to the upgrade or nothing to do [with it].
“The updates work as expected.
“These are only the very first one, a few updates are expected as well in the next races, so we’ll not stop here and our hope certainly is that we can do a better job in the future.”