Sebastian Vettel has said Ferrari have “failed” in their task of narrowing the gap to Mercedes via the use of new updates to the SF90.
New wings and a new floor were part of Ferrari’s update package heading into the French Grand Prix weekend, but older parts made a return the closer we got to lights out on Sunday.
After a torrid qualifying session on Saturday, where Vettel qualified down in P7, the four-time World Champion could only salvage two positions after a very uneventful race.
“We failed,” Vettel said back in the paddock at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
“We wanted to close the gap to Mercedes by a certain amount and we didn’t. In that regard we have to be honest, we failed, but, nevertheless we tried everything we could.
“Charles’ podium is at least a little bit of a satisfaction. The bigger objective was to come here and close the gap but we had to learn that our parts weren’t working the way we expected them to.”
Vettel earned an extra point by setting the fastest lap late on, but even that was no straightforward task given how close Mercedes were to taking that point from him.
“We had to [go for it],” Vettel added.
“At least it’s one extra point, otherwise I don’t think we’d have fought for P4. The pace from the P3 to P5 was pretty much the same so it was quite difficult.
“It just shows how much pace they have in hand,” Vettel said when learning his fastest lap was just 0.02s quicker than Hamilton’s effort on old tyres.
“If they want to they just go a lot faster. That means there is a lot of work for us, but need to make sure to get closer to put them under pressure.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) June 23, 2019
On his race as a whole, he summarised: “The first stint was quite okay, we were catching Max [Verstappen] and Charles [Leclerc]
“In the second stint I struggled a bit more with the balance, didn’t have the full trust on the rear. It was fun at least I could push the whole race but it was lonely.
“It was a lonely race. I enjoyed in the beginning with the McLarens but other than that lonely. I was fighting very hard but it was in the distance.”
Leclerc closed to within a second of Bottas on the final lap, but he admits that there were “not enough laps” remaining for him to snatch P2.
“I gave it everything, I felt OK with the car but the Mercedes were too quick early on,” he told Martin Brundle on the grid.
“The first run was quite OK, and on the second run I was about tyre management and towards the end I was catching Valtteri.
“But there was not enough laps for me to try something. But where we were on Friday, today is a great day for us. In the last two laps I was catching quite quickly.”
Vettel is now 76 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton in the World Championship standings as we head to round nine in Austria.