The troubles of the Ferrari were evident to all yesterday, with the team complaining of tyre graining hampering their pace, particularly on single lap qualifying pace.
Team boss Mattia Binotto confirmed the team’s limited pace over a single lap caused by “very high wear” on their front tyres. Ferrari in the qualifying simulation was quite close to Mercedes in the first two sectors but lost out hugely by half a second in the last.
Obviously the new track surface at Silverstone and increased cornering speeds putting the front-left tyre under particularly high strain. But this would improve by Sunday as the track rubbers in.
For Vettel in the long runs, the German was not entirely satisfied at the end of the free practice: “We had many ups and downs in the afternoon, for various reasons. We tried several things, so I’m not so bothered looking at the times. The Mercedes looks very fast and the car to beat, so we’ll see tomorrow. We and Red Bull are close but Mercedes seems to be far away ” .
“We knew that Silverstone would have been more difficult [for] us compared maybe to the last race, no doubt,” confirmed Binotto “But we are as well curious to see the progress of the car, the progress we made in the last weeks.
“To judge today seems very difficult and still too early. We had very high wear on the front tyres, the front-left, which is really affecting the single [qualifying] lap.
“If you look we were quite strong in the first and second sectors but weak in the last one with some understeer.”
The team “will be focused on this, this evening and overnight” Binotto added.
But could there be a ray of light when we analyse the data on the FP2 long run pace?
Apart from Bottas who didn’t complete enough clean laps on his second stint, the other Ferrari of Leclerc put in some pretty impressive average lap times. In fact his average pace on the softs were actually better than Hamiltons on both his medium and soft tyres.
If Ferrari get on top of their graining issues today, could we see the Monagasque driver on the podium? It’s a good bet.