Ferrari: It's our "duty" to support struggling Vettel
Ferrari Formula 1 team sporting director Laurent Mekies says it’s the “duty” of the Maranello outfit to support Sebastian Vettel, as the former World Champion struggles to find speed in the SF1000.
After starting 10th at the British GP, Vettel had another difficult qualifying for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, failing to progress into Q3. Charles Leclerc did make it through, and he starts eighth, four slots behind the place he attained last weekend.
Vettel told Italian TV that he was “up against a wall” and couldn’t extract any more from the car.
Mekies insisted that recent work has improved the feel of the car, but that hadn’t translated into lap time.
“I think Sebastian is second to none when it comes to fighting spirit and to try everything he can and be as constructive as one can be in trying to understand how to move the next limit,” said the Frenchman.
“I think what he expressed in saying we hit the wall is we have been trying so many different things in the last two weeks here with him which somehow made the car feel better, but didn’t seem to be any breakthrough in terms of lap time.
“And I think it’s our duty now trying to do anything we can to support him, and to make sure that we convert the better car thing into lap time, because he’s a massive asset for the team and he’s not an asset that we can leave behind. And therefore we are together with him on that search for that missing batch of lap time that we are after.
“I think as he expressed last week he was very uncomfortable with the car, and you know from experience as soon as one is losing the confidence in the car it’s very to have the lap time disappear.
“Nonetheless he kept the right spirit, and with his group they looked at many different ways to set up the car. We somehow arrived at something he was much happier with in terms of balance, but he didn’t unlock the lap time we’re after, and that’s the concern that we now have to analyse and to try to unlock.”
Mekies said that Ferrari will take strategy risks in an effort to make up ground, hinting that the team might pursue long stints that will push the tyres to the limit. Leclerc is committed to the medium for the start, while Vettel has a free choice.
“Starting from behind the pack in Silverstone is complicated,” said Mekies. “Because you get all the dirty air in high-speed corners and so on, so it’s something that will be a step back compared to last week. So we’ll try to play with this opportunity, with this risk-taking, to see if we gain some ground back.
“We try to finish each race with saying that was a clean sheet, we’ve nailed what we had to nail, we extracted everything we could, and that took us to whatever. Its with that spirit that we’ll fight, maybe with that small additional risk-taking that one needs to take when you start at the back.”
F1 drivers can't use pitlane 'shortcut' on last lap
70th Anniversary GP as it happened