Sebastian Vettel’s relationship with Ferrari continued to deteriorate after the 2020 season re-start in Austria. It was the first race weekend since the Maranello team made the decision to oust the quadruple world champion at the end of the year. The event finally made clear the extent of Ferrari’s problems with its 2020 car, with Vettel not even making it into the top ten segment in qualifying. “We are missing a second to pole – seven tenths on the straights alone,” team boss Mattia Binotto said.
But amid rumours Ferrari’s engine design was hobbled as a result of the cheating scandal, reporters pointed out that the new car was actually considerably slower than its predecessor in Austria a year ago. “We compare ourselves with the competition, not with the previous year,” Binotto insisted.
He says the problem is “a combination of the engine and aerodynamics”, and said some new parts will arrive for the next race in Austria, and then a bigger update is set for Hungary. “But it will not be a final solution,” the Italian warned. “The engine is frozen for this year, and we will not be able to reduce the drag so quickly either.”
However, the situation is also widening the obvious divide between Vettel and Ferrari. Hailing Charles Leclerc for “fighting like a lion” en route to an unexpected podium, Binotto was far less forthcoming with praise for the German. “It was certainly not his best race today,” he told Sky Italia when asked about Vettel. “He said the car was less driveable than it was on Friday.
“As far as the spin (with Carlos Sainz) is concerned, it wasn’t a great move by him, and he is aware of that. “I think it’s a shame because today would have been important to score points, especially when our direct competitors could not,” Binotto added. For his part, Vettel denied fault for his poor race. “Something was wrong with the car,” he said. “I had no confidence, and I am even glad that I only spun once.”
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