Formula 1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has praised Ferrari’s attempts to escape Q2 on the medium tyres in Baku despite the move backfiring.
After finishing one-two in every practice session ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Ferrari attempted to get Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc out of Q2 on the mediums so they could start the race on those tyres and have greater flexibility in their first stint.
The move would fail heavily though when Charles Leclerc smashed into the barriers at the Castle Section during Q2, while the dropping temparatures in Q3 after the big delay, resulted in Vettel managing only P3 for the race.
Mercedes would take the one-two in qualifying and again in the race, continuing their domination of 2019, while Ferrari seemingly again threw away a promising position.
However, Brawn believes that Ferrari made the right call to run the mediums in Q2, saying that if it had have worked, then they would have given themselves a big advantage over Mercedes for the race.
“The decision to try to qualify in Q2 on the medium tyre was the right one in my opinion, because on the softs, Mercedes had shown they had a better race pace on Friday afternoon,” said Brawn in his regular post-weekend F1 debrief.
“If Charles had managed to get ahead of them in Q3 – and there was a chance of that – and then run a long first stint, as he went on to do, then he would have been in with a good chance of finishing at the front.
“Unfortunately for him, despite a strong climb up the order, he finished fifth, for the third time this year. And I doubt that taking an extra point for setting the fastest race lap would have cheered him up. However, even after this race, he bears all the hallmarks of a driver on the way up, destined for great things.”
The impressive Ferrari pace has undoubtedly brought the very best out in the team. The Silver Team.
— Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) April 29, 2019
Brawn understands why people think the titles are already in Mercedes’ grasp, but he refuses to rule Ferrari out of making it a two-way fight yet.
“As the first tranche of races that make up this long championship comes to an end in Baku, one could ask oneself if we can still expect to see at least two teams fighting it out for the titles,” said Brawn.
“At the moment, a negative response would seem logical, given that Mercedes has taken four consecutive one-two finishes, but I feel there is still time for Ferrari to fight back, as it showed in two of the four races that it has what’s needed to win.
“The duel between the two Mercedes drivers is definitely wide open, with Bottas and Hamilton only separated by the point scored by Bottas for fastest lap in Australia.”