Ferrari’s qualy pace has been ‘slightly compromised’

Mark Scott
Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Paul Ricard June 2021

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in action for Ferrari at the French Grand Prix. Paul Ricard June 2021

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has revealed the team has overcome their tyre wear woes, even if it has come at the slight expense of giving up some qualifying pace.

The Scuderia’s clear progress from a miserable 2020 campaign was threatened by a developing issue in where the SF21 would really eat through its tyres and force Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz into a more conservative approach on race days.

But, unlike in seasons past where this particular problem may have lingered for Ferrari, they have managed to address the problem relatively quickly – although it has meant giving up some lap time on Saturday afternoons.

“I think that we may have slightly compromised [qualifying pace] but not much,” Binotto said, as quoted by the official Formula 1 website.

“I think it’s for the drivers as well to adapt to a different type of set-up, which they are doing. I think it’s ourselves who are learning a different type of balance to be used.

“But I think it’s really race preparation as well, which has been very important for Silverstone.

“But it’s a learning curve, that one as well, and obviously that’s a key element when you’ve got front tyre wear. It doesn’t mean that in all the circuits you need to review the way you’re approaching your set-up.”

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And it was front tyre wear in particular that needed to be addressed by Ferrari in order to prevent themselves falling into a slump that they have become all too familiar with in recent years.

“What happened in France, we had a very high tyre wear on the front-left, graining and then a lot of wear,” Binotto explained.

“We tried back at Maranello to try and approach, in terms of homework, the exercise of, ‘do we have an issue on our car, in terms of concept’, which is as a consequence bringing it back to tyre wear.

“Because if we look at not only France but all the past races just before France, on average, compared to the entire grid, we were the ones that were wearing the most on the front.

“So it was not a single issue in France, but most of the races we were wearing a lot on the front.

“I think what we found out is that in the end, it’s very simple. If you’re wearing, it’s because you are sliding, as simple as that.

“And if you are sliding, there are reasons why you may slide, and these reasons, it can be simple set-up. You may perfect the rear of the car in braking, have good rear stability but an understeering car.

“But we moved our set-up in the following races, tried to have more balance in terms of, let me say, understeer to oversteer, tried to slide less on the fronts and manage the tyres in that respect, and I think whatever steps we made in that direction have proved to be the right direction to cope with the tyre wear.

“And as a matter of fact, in Austria and certainly in the UK and following as well the situation in Hungary, we’ve shown that we’ve been able, in the last races, to have an improvement in terms of front tyre wear, and today it doesn’t seem to be as critical as it has been in France.