Melbourne, 17 March 2019 – It was a complicated Australian Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari, although it still managed to pick up 22 points that will be important for the championship, with both its SF90s seeing the checkered flag. However, the team had to accept that it was not in condition to fight for the podium positions. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and Charles Leclerc, on his race debut with the Scuderia, was fifth.
Sebastian and Charles both got good starts, with Vettel able to get alongside Hamilton’s Mercedes. Leclerc got past Verstappen in the Red Bull but he was forced to put two wheels on the grass at the first corner and had to give back the position to the Dutchman.
In the early stages, Sebastian was able to keep a good pace, while Charles made a mistake on lap 8 and lost ground to Verstappen. On lap 14, Vettel pitted, switching from the Soft to the Medium tyres, while Leclerc stayed out until lap 28, when he fitted the Hard compound tyres.
In the second stint, the car on Medium tyres didn’t perform as expected and so Sebastian had to manage the rubber for the rest of the race. Charles could run a good pace and in the final stages closed on Vettel, but the team decided the drivers should hold position, given that the cars ahead were too far away and so an assault on the podium was unlikely. The next race takes place in Bahrain in a fortnight’s time.
Sebastian Vettel #5
quote “We were not happy with the car the whole weekend but today we struggled a lot. The reason I was so slow in the race was mostly due to the fact that the car could not find enough grip with the medium tyres that we fitted at the pit stop. As a team, we still got a decent amount of points from our fourth and fifth places, but this is not the result we were aiming for just a few weeks ago. So in the coming days, we will analyse the data in detail so as to be ready for the next race, which is not far away now. I’m sure that looking at all the information we have gathered here will give us a better understanding, but today, the result we got was the best we could do.”
Charles Leclerc #16
quote “I made a good start, to the extent that I managed to pass Verstappen and found myself alongside Sebastian, who was fighting a Mercedes. That meant I had to put my wheels on the grass at the exit of the first esses, which allowed Max to get in front of me again. At the start, the car was not so easy to drive and that led to me making a small mistake at the first corner, which cost me a handful of seconds. We decided to fit the hard tyres at the pit stop and, I have to say, that from then on, the car improved a lot and I was able to push. Towards the end, I closed on Sebastian, but the team decided to keep our positions, given that the top three places were not within our grasp today. Now, we will work with the engineers to try and understand why we were not as strong as we had hoped to be, even though we brought home a good points haul.”
Mattia Binotto Team Principal
quote “Right from Friday, we didn’t feel comfortable at this track. Even though we did a lot of work on set-up, we didn’t find the right balance and even our qualifying performance demonstrated that we were struggling to adapt to the Albert Park track. Then, in the race, in the first stint, we tried to keep up. Charles made a slight mistake, which meant he could not stay with the leaders. After his pit stop, Seb’s car never found the right grip level on the Medium tyres and so the driver was unable to attack those ahead of him. When he could no longer fend off Verstappen, we decided the most important thing was to get to the end, managing the tyres. When Charles caught up to him, it seemed wise not to take any risks. We leave Australia with a lot of data to analyse and we will use that to work out how to get back to our actual level of competitiveness for the race in Bahrain in two weeks time”.
Second and third row for Ferrari
Melbourne, 16 March 2019 – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will start the Australian Grand Prix from the second and third row of the grid respectively. It was not the easiest of sessions for the Scuderia and it ended with Sebastian third fastest and Charles fifth. The race gets underway at 16h10 local time (06h10 CET.)
Q1. In the first part of qualifying, Vettel was the only driver to go through to the next part on Medium tyres in a time of 1’22”885. Leclerc did a 1’23”326 which led him to go for a set of Softs, producing a 1’22” 0217 to easily get through to the next part.
Q2. Only Softs were used and Sebastian posted a 1’21”912 and Charles a 1’21”739 which saw them comfortably make it to the final ten minutes to decide the top ten places on the grid.
Q3. In the final shoot-out, Sebastian soon posted a lap in 1’21”250, good enough for third place. The German managed to improve on his second run, getting down to 1’21”190. On his first run, Charles did a 1’21”442, which would be his best time, as the number 16 driver made a mistake at the wheel of his SF90 on his second run and had to settle for fifth on the grid.
Sebastian Vettel #5
“Starting tomorrow’s race from third is not too bad and the car is ok, even if it’s not exactly how we would like it and we are not as fast as we wanted to be. But we’ll start from there and see what we can bring home. This track is unique and conditions are different to what we experienced in testing. We have definitely improved the car overnight, but obviously not enough to be in front of everyone. In tomorrow’s race we’ll have time to understand the car further. We will race as hard as we can and see where that takes us. After all, we are just 16 metres behind pole position”.
Charles Leclerc #16
“I can’t say I’m happy with this qualifying result. After a good Q1 and a very good Q2, in Q3, especially on my second run, I made a few too many mistakes, especially in the first sector and I was unable to improve. I will try to learn from this and to prepare as well as possible for the race. As for the gap to our main competitors, I have to admit that maybe we had expected it to be smaller, even if this is an unusual track which often throws up a different order to what we can see on a more traditional track. On our side, I think there is still room to work on the car and the race is tomorrow and will be pretty long, so I am still aiming for a podium. I will definitely have to get a perfect start, because overtaking is far from easy here.”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
“We can’t say this was the result we were expecting, but we are well aware that Albert Park is not an ideal track for us, as its characteristics do not suit our car that well. Of course, we must improve, but we have gathered a great deal of information to identify the areas on which we must work. As usual, Seb showed that he knows how to use every centimetre of the track and Charles got through his first real test, a few little errors notwithstanding. Ahead of us, we have another 20 qualifying sessions and 21 races, so it’s a long game and we’re ready to play it.”
A busy day
Melbourne, 15 March 2019 – It was a busy Friday for Scuderia Ferrari at the Albert Park circuit, which is hosting the first race of the 2019 Formula 1 season. During the three hours of free practice, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc carried out a full evaluation programme on their SF90s.
The drivers worked on set-up and tyres to check the handling of the car in much warmer conditions than those experienced at the Barcelona tests. Sebastian and Charles then ran with different fuel loads to simulate different phases of the race.
In the first session, both drivers did 18 laps: Vettel was second fastest in 1’23”637, fractionally quicker than Leclerc’s 1’23”673. In the second session, both men competed 35 laps; the German was fifth quickest in 1’23”473 and the Monegasque was ninth in 1’23”754.
The third and final free practice session takes place tomorrow afternoon at 14:00 local time (04:00 CET) with the first qualifying session of the year getting underway at 17:00 (07:00 CET.) The Australian Grand Prix starts on Sunday at 16h10 (06:10 CET.).
Sebastian Vettel #5
“It was fun today. Maybe we were not as fast as possibly we wanted to be and could have been, but it’s Friday, after all, so it doesn’t really matter. I am sure that by December 1st no one will remember how fast we were on March 15! I am still lacking a bit of confidence, it was a tricky day for us, as it probably was for everyone. We are not yet where we would like to be, not so much in terms of lap time but more in terms of car feel and handling. We didn’t really get into the groove and into the rhythm, which is quite important round here on such a bumpy but I think that tomorrow will be a better day and if we can get that confidence back, then there’s a lot of lap time in that. There were bits of the session that were really, really good and we can build on, so now it’s all about stringing it together and having a better day tomorrow. The night is long and our engineers are very smart. I am relaxed”.
Charles Leclerc #16
“It was definitely a busy day. We tried different tyres and types of set-up and I am very satisfied with some aspects. The first session was better than the second, maybe because the wind got up in the afternoon and we struggled a bit more to find the right reference points. Having spoken with the engineers, I believe that, nevertheless, we have understood where we have to improve and we will go in that direction. We have one more session in which we can put into practice the solutions that an analysis of the data suggests, in order to be ready for qualifying”.
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
“For the first day of free practice of the season, the most important part of the programme was getting an understanding of the car and its behaviour so as to prepare it for Saturday and Sunday. The track is very bumpy and today, the wind was very strong, which was inconvenient. The drivers are still looking for the right feeling with the car here. Now we just have to work on the set-up and get ready for qualifying”.
Vettel and Leclerc met the media
Melbourne, 14 March 2019 – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc met the media today in the paddock at Albert Park, the circuit which hosts the opening round of the 2019 season, the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. The German was one of the drivers on the panel in the official FIA press conference and the Monegasque driver spoke to journalists at Scuderia Ferrari’s hospitality unit.
Tribute to Whiting. The FIA Press Conference began with a tribute to Charlie Whiting, who passed away in Melbourne overnight. Sebastian said of him, “he was someone you could ask anything of at anytime. He was open to everyone at any time. His door was always open. He was a racer. He was just a very nice guy. I was shocked. I don’t think there’s that much to add. I think all our thoughts, the whole paddock, the whole circus, the whole family of Formula One, all our thoughts are with him and especially with his family in these difficult circumstances.”
Sebastian. Vettel said he is set for the new season: “We are more prepared than last year, our car seems to work fine but having said that, it is difficult to do better than last year as we won. Obviously this is the first race of the year and you’re normally a bit nervous as you don’t know exactly where you are. At this point I think we are all hunters and all hunted, but hopefully going away from here, I will be in the position of the hunted.”
Charles. Leclerc met the media late in the afternoon. He reiterated what he had said previously, prior to his Scuderia Ferrari debut. “Obviously, I can’t wait to get out on track to see where we really stand,” said the Monegasque driver. “As I said before, I don’t think I’ll let myself feel too excited about it, even if I am honoured to be driving a Ferrari. I am here to do well, I want to concentrate on myself and will work with the team to get the most out of the car.”
Free Practice. Tomorrow’s two free practice sessions start at 12:00 and 16:00 local time (02:00 and 06:00 CET.)
Maranello, 12 March – 2019 is a special year for Scuderia Ferrari, as it was 90 years ago, in 1929, that the company was established by Enzo Ferrari and his associates. The name of this year’s car, the SF90, is already a celebration of this anniversary and, on top of that, the Maranello marque has decided to honour this achievement in an even more evident manner in Melbourne. Over the Australian Grand Prix weekend, the SF90 livery, the drivers’ race suits and some of the team’s track equipment will bear the logo celebrating 90 years of the Scuderia.
In fact, the race in Melbourne represents the start of celebrations for this special anniversary, which will run throughout the Formula 1 season and also feature in the Prancing Horse company’s other racing activities. In May, the Ferrari Museum in Maranello will launch a special show dedicated to the anniversary, which will take visitors on a journey through the history of one of the most amazing institutions in the world of sport.
A bit of history. Scuderia Ferrari came into being on 16th November 1929 in the offices of the notary, Della Fontana of Modena, the company established as the Società Anonima Scuderia Ferrari, with its headquarters in via Trento and Trieste. It was approved by the courts on 29th November and from that moment on the company was effectively operational. The directors of the company were Alfredo and Augusto Caniato, Enzo Ferrari and Ferruccio Testi. Alfa Romeo and Pirelli were also involved.
The team made its debut in the 1930 Mille Miglia and its first win came in the Trieste-Opicina on 15th June that same year, courtesy of the great Tazio Nuvolari. Motorcycles also featured in the Scuderia’s history, from 1932 to 1934 and 1932 marked the first appearance of the Prancing Horse as part of the livery of the Alfa Romeos entered by Ferrari. The symbol came from the family of war hero Francesco Baracca, the horse set on a shield with a yellow background, representing the colour of the city of Modena. Its first win came in the Spa 24 Hours thanks to Antonio Brivio and Eugenio Siena.
Starting off racing Alfa Romeo cars and then, from 1947, with cars built in-house, Scuderia Ferrari became the most successful race team of all time, taking thousands of wins in some of the most important races in the world. In Formula 1 alone, it has taken 16 Constructors’ titles and 15 Drivers’. In the world of endurance racing, Ferrari has nine victories to its name in the Le Mans 24 Hours, two at Daytona and five FIA WEC titles and has even been successful in rallying.
aranello – The 70th Formula 1 World Championship season is about to get underway at Australia’s Albert Park circuit, which has already hosted the first race of the year 21 times. The race on Sunday 17 March will be the 35th Australian Grand Prix, the 24th held in Melbourne, which became the venue after Adelaide had been the host city from 1985 to 1995.
Nine wins. Scuderia Ferrari has nine Australian wins to its name, the first courtesy of Gerhard Berger in Adelaide, in 1987 and the most recent, last year with Sebastian Vettel. In addition, Ferrari drivers have stood on the podium a further 16 times, with eight second places and the same number of thirds. Also on the results sheet, six pole positions and nine fastest race laps.
Three DRS zones. The track is 5.303 kilometres long with 16 corners and is tackled 58 times on Sunday. Because it is a street circuit, the track surface evolves considerably as the cars put down more rubber on the tarmac. There are three DRS zones.
Sebastian Vettel. “I feel Melbourne is the perfect place to start the championship. There’s an enjoyable atmosphere and the people are nice and welcoming. However, the circuit itself is very unusual and you have to get attuned to the track: you have to remember the lines precisely and it’s not always easy to spot the breaking point and, on top of that, the track surface is usually bumpy. But we drivers like it and if we were asked if we wanted it resurfaced, we would probably say no, because that’s what makes it unique. I’ve got great memories of this track. Of course, the best are those from the past two seasons, as we won both times, but I also have fond memories of my first podium with Ferrari in 2015 here, on my debut with the Scuderia.”
Charles Leclerc. “Obviously this will be a very special race for me, being my debut with Ferrari and that will make this Australian GP unique. I’ve already got good memories of Melbourne, because Albert Park was where I made my Formula 1 debut last year. I am pleased with the way testing went and I can’t wait to get out on track, as it’s on the race weekend that we have to reap the rewards for all the winter work, by getting a good result. The track is unusual, because it’s a street circuit, but with the characteristics of a permanent track, with wide run-off areas and reasonably high speeds. It’s nice coming to Melbourne, as the city and the people are special. You can feel Australia has a different culture and the atmosphere is very enjoyable.”
Mattia Binotto. “The race that marks the start of the season is always significant, and this year even more so because Scuderia Ferrari is celebrating its 90th birthday in 2019. We are very happy to have a couple of extraordinary drivers like Sebastian and Charles. After the winter tests, the whole team wants to get out on track to compete with opponents who we know are very, very strong. We are heading into the first of a long series of stages, and our task is to try to cause problems to rivals who proved stronger last year. It will be a demanding season. It is important to start well, aware that we have 21 rounds of equal importance ahead of us. The championship ends in December so every point can be valuable”.