Max Verstappen doesn’t know why Ferrari lacked pace in Austria, after all he’s driving a “Honda-powered car”.
Arriving at the Red Bull Ring for the season-opening grand prix, Ferrari downplayed its chances of fighting at the sharp end of the grid.
It turned out to be worse than even the Scuderia expected.
While Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen put his Red Bull up into third place.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was seventh, almost a full second down on Bottas’ pole position time, while Sebastian Vettel didn’t even make it into the final shoot-out.
The 32-year-old qualified 11th on Saturday and blamed the handling of his SF1000.
“I wasn’t quite happy with the car,” he told Motorsport.com, “I was not so happy with the car, quite more oversteer on entry than I would have liked.”
As to be expected Ferrari’s rivals were asked for their thoughts on the Scuderia’s disappointing Saturday.
“Well, I guess you have to ask Ferrari about that!” said Verstappen. “The engineers.
“I don’t know, I’m driving with the Honda-powered car so I have no information why that is.”
Verstappen’s comment about what manufacturer powers the car implies Ferrari’s problems are more to do with the power unit than the Scuderia’s insistance that it is an aerodynamic deficit.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes the engine, which last year courted controversy when Ferrari’s rivals questioned its legality, could be the cause.
He told Auto Bild: “It’s unbelievable what that Ferrari engine did last year.”
Meanwhile Hamilton admitted he was surprised by Ferrari’s poor pace in qualifying.
“Not expecting them to be that far behind but,” he said, “as Max said, I don’t know what their reasons are.”
Saturday’s qualifying saw all the Ferrari-powered cars down on pace compared to 2019.
Gains/losses for Austria qualifying vs 2019 times:
Racing Point -0.921
Red Bull +0.038
Alfa Romeo +1.119 #F1
— Phillip Horton (@PHortonF1) July 4, 2020
Neither Alfa Romeo driver made it out of Q1 at the Red Bull Ring with Antonio Giovinazzi P18 to Kimi Raikkonen’s P19.
As for Haas, Kevin Magnussen also dropped out in Q1 in 16th place while his team-mate Romain Grosjean sneaked through only to finish 15th fastest.
Leclerc admits the situation at Ferrari is worse than they had expected.
“Unfortunately that’s where we are at the moment, but we need to stay positive in these moments that are very hard to find any positives,” said the Monégasque driver.
“We cannot get demoralised by today’s result but today’s result is not what we were expecting, we’re not even close to where we expected to be.”