Sebastian Vettel is counting on a “reset” to try and ease his and Ferrari’s problems at the Belgian Grand Prix – where they were vying with Williams in Friday practice.
A year ago at Spa-Francorchamps, Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid and then Charles Leclerc won the race from pole position – starting a run of three consecutive September victories for the Italian giants.
Such has been their decline since then, however, that Leclerc and Vettel finished P15 and P17 in FP2 this time around – behind both AlphaTauri cars and the two Alfa Romeos which have a Ferrari engine in the back.
Vettel was also slower than George Russell, who 12 months ago was almost four seconds off Leclerc’s pace in Q1.
Even by Ferrari’s dismal standards in 2020 it marked a new low – and Vettel, who is being pushed out of the team at the end of the year when his contract expires, could offer no excuses for the poor performances of their cars.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) August 28, 2020
“It was a difficult day for us, the car was tricky to drive and I guess that means we are not where we should be,” said the four-time former World Champion.
“We are looking currently to find options with the set-up, we tried a lot this afternoon. But yeah, reset, try again and try something different and I’m sure tomorrow will be a bit better.”
Ferrari were a second down on their lap times of last year’s equivalent practice sessions at Spa, with Vettel adding: “It’s probably not a surprise. It’s been like this in other events as well.”
A wet race on Sunday could provide an opportunity for Ferrari to push their way up the order.
Vettel said: “I think we’ve had some glimpse of wet conditions already this year in Austria and Hungary. It wouldn’t be the easiest for us but there’s always a chance to mix things up, so we’ll see what we get.”
Leclerc, meanwhile, fared little better and pointed to the balance of the car as being the major issue.
“A very difficult day. It’s probably a surprise to be so far back, especially in FP2,” he said.
“We tried quite a lot of things at the beginning. I tried something quite aggressive in downforce levels but it didn’t really work out. We are just lacking pace at the moment and we need to work hard to catch back, but I don’t expect miracles this weekend.
“It doesn’t feel good and it’s sad to see Ferrari so far down, but as always our work as drivers is to give our best and that’s exactly what I’m trying and what Seb is trying to do in the car.”
The prospect of rain did not enthuse Leclerc.
He added: “We are struggling quite a bit with the balance this weekend and normally in the rain, the balance gets worse and the issues you have in the dry are worse in the rain.
“So I think it will be difficult if we don’t find any solution to try and fix the balance problems we had today.”