28 April 2019 – Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow leaves Azerbaijan having taken its third podium finish of the season, but with a sense of regret at not getting a better result. Sebastian Vettel finished third for the second consecutive race, while Charles Leclerc, starting back in eighth because of his qualifying mistake, worked his way up to fifth and, at one point even led the race for 19 laps. He also took the point for setting the race fastest lap.
Sebastian maintained his third place off the grid, while Charles, on the Medium tyres dropped from eighth to tenth but, from the second lap began a great climb up the order. He picked off his rivals at the rate of one per lap, despatching them in the order Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, to move to third place, by the time Vettel pitted on lap 11. Shortly afterwards, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton pitted to go from Softs to Mediums and that saw Charles in the lead.
At this point, the team opted to lengthen Leclerc’s stint as much as possible, in case a Safety Car period would mean the Monegasque driver could pit losing less time and could thus set off in attacking mode for the final stint. The opportunity never arose and Charles came in on lap 34, rejoining sixth behind Pierre Gasly, whom he took one lap to pass.
In the closing stages, Sebastian managed his lead over Max Verstappen, to finish third behind Bottas and Hamilton. Charles was running unchallenged in fifth and therefore on lap 47, he pitted for fresh tyres to go for the fastest lap of the race. He did it, setting a new track record of 1’43”009. It was Ferrari’s 250th fastest lap in Formula 1. The next round takes place in two weeks’ time in Spain.
Sebastian Vettel #5
“That was fun driving today, although not so much in the first stint when I couldn’t get the tyres to work and I didn’t have as much grip as I’d expected. We were not quick and the performance was uneven because I damaged the tyres trying to get them up to temperature and then, once they were there, they didn’t give the performance I’d expected because, they were damaged. After the pit stop I really got a good pace and I had fun because I felt the car was fully under control and I felt free to push, even if it wasn’t enough to put our rivals under pressure. At the restart following the Virtual Safety Car, I set my fastest lap and I managed to get the gap to Verstappen to a second. I think that by then he realised he couldn’t attack me and so I was able to drop the pace a bit in the closing laps. Our pace was alright today, but not good enough. The whole team is working to the maximum and so I feel confident. I believe in this team and I know we can improve. We have a good car, but we’re not using it in the way to get the results we should be getting. It’s like a Rubik’s cube where you have to have everything in the right order. We have a lot of clever people in the team who could solve that puzzle in less than two minutes, but in this case the cube is a bit bigger.”
Charles Leclerc #16
“We extracted the most we could have done out of today’s race. After the setback in qualifying, I started from P8 on medium tyres. It was a bit tricky in the beginning, because everyone around me was starting on the soft compound while I struggled a little bit to get up to speed. Once I got the tyres up to temperature, I had good grip and the situation improved. We had a strong first stint and were able to gain some positions there. After the pit-stop it became clear that we would not be able to move further up the order, so we decided to stop pushing to save the tyres, pitted for a new set and so I was able to bring home the point for the fastest lap at the end. Overall, it hasn’t been the best weekend but our potential was clearly there and I hope that we will have a much better performance at the next GP in Spain again.”
Mattia Binotto Team Principal
“Our performance did not live up to our expectations today. Qualifying had not gone the way we would have wanted and, on this track, grid positions make a big difference, as starting further back makes everything more difficult. In the race, there were no Safety Car periods to take advantage of, which might have played into our hands against our rivals. Sebastian produced a solid performance, always close to the two leaders and he fully deserved to finish on the podium. Charles ran a great race, moving up the order, after losing a few places at the start, because it was harder for him to get his Medium tyres up to temperature than it was for those on the Softs. Today, our pace was not good enough and our rivals were faster. We have to go home, identify the areas where we are weak and push in our way of working, to make more aggressive choices to get back to where we deserve to be.”
Baku, 28 April 2019 – Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow came away from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with a third place courtesy of Sebastian Vettel and a fifth with Charles Leclerc.
The race. Sebastian held on to his start position of third and Charles dropped from eighth to tenth, before climbing all the way up to first, thanks to a long stint, having started on the Medium tyre.
Closing stages. Leclerc took the lead when those ahead pitted to shed the Soft tyres, while he came in on lap 35 for his change. In the closing stages, Vettel managed his lead over Max Verstappen, crossing the finish line in third place, behind Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Charles, now in a comfortable fifth place, stopped for fresh tyres to have a go at setting the race fastest lap, which he duly did, setting a new track record of 1’43”009. It was Ferrari’s 250thfastest Formula 1 race lap.
Baku, 27 April 2019 – The Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow SF90s will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the second and fifth rows of the grid, when the race starts at 16.10 (14.10 CET).
Q1. Both drivers comfortably made the cut to Q2, doing three times laps each on just one set of Soft tyres. Charles did a 1’42”652, which he then improved on by over a second, doing a 1’41”426. Unfortunately, Sebastian had to abort his first run because of yellow flags in Sector 1, doing a 1’42”347 followed by a 1’42”042 before pitting.
Q2. In the second session, Leclerc and Vettel went out on Medium tyres. On his first attempt, Charles did an excellent 1’41”995, while Sebastian made a slight mistake and therefore posted a 1’43”355. Charles set off for another quick lap but ended up in the wall at Turn 8, which brought out the red flags. When the session restarted, the track surface was getting progressively cooler. Sebastian went out on the Softs and did a 1’42”209 and then a 1’41”889, which was good enough to get into the top ten shoot-out for pole position.
Q3. In the final 10 minutes of qualifying, Sebastian made two runs; a 1’41”124 and then a 1’40”797 to improve in the final seconds of the session. It was good enough for him to start from third on the grid, behind a front row made up of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Charles Leclerc’s car is currently being repaired by the mechanics and will line up on the ninth spot on the grid, the first of those who will start the race on the Medium tyres. In fact, the time Charles set in Q2 before crashing remained the sixth fastest overall, which is how he qualified for Q3, even though he took no part in it.
Sebastian Vettel #5
“It was a tough call in the end. When the track temperature dropped the car balance changed and getting the tyres to work for that one lap, especially after such a long straight before starting the lap, was not easy. With the clock ticking down, everybody was banking on the last run and getting a tow so at some point I had to make the call; do I prioritise my tyres or the tow? Which would have meant compromising the outlap and I didn’t have the feeling that I could afford that and I wanted to have a clean shot. My first Q3 run was ok, but on the second run I didn’t have anybody to tow me along, so I dealt with it just focusing on my lap and obviously I lost quite a lot, about four tenths, compared to the previous lap. But that’s what happens at this track. It was a tricky session. I saw Charles in the barrier and realised qualifying was over for him. It was a shame to lose one of our cars. In the end, we are one team and everybody is working extremely hard no matter which side of the garage you are on. Anyway, we need to turn the page as tomorrow is a new day and it’s a long race where anything can happen. As a team we can recover and put our rivals under pressure. Overall I feel we have a strong car so we can go and race hard and should have some fun.”
Charles Leclerc #16
“I am disappointed with myself. Our pace was good all weekend and we expected to have a positive qualifying result. My first lap in Q2 was very good considering we were on Mediums, but then I made a driving error on the second lap. I just didn’t do the job. The team and all the people supporting us out there deserved much more. Tomorrow is a new day. I will stay positive and push to do the best job possible in the race.”
Mattia Binotto Team Principal
“We are not happy about the outcome of qualifying. I think our car was performing well today and we could have certainly achieved a much better result. The upgrades we brought here worked well and we are happy with the way they are behaving. Sebastian improved run after run and found the best feeling with the car right on his last attempt. This is such a peculiar track and had he found a better feeling before he could have done a better job. Charles will be one of the very few of the top ten starting on Medium tyres and he can still have a great race. He was very fast today and can be very fast tomorrow as well. It has been a real shame that his qualifying ended at turn 8, but these things happen when you push to the limit.”
Baku, 27 April 2019 – Qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix turned out to be tougher than expected for Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow. Sebastian Vettel will start the race from the second row, while Charles Leclerc will line up on the fifth row, having ended his Q2 challenge in the barriers.
Complicated Q2. Charles and Sebastian both got through the first part of qualifying and took to the track for Q2 on the Medium tyre. The Monegasque driver did a 1’41”995 but his session then ended as he hit the barriers. Sebastian had to do another lap on the Soft tyre, getting through to the final decisive part of the afternoon with a time of 1’41”889. In those last 10 minutes, Vettel did a 1’41”124 before getting down to a 1’40”797 on his second run. Sebastian will start from third on the grid, while Charles will start ninth, once his SF90 has been repaired by the mechanics. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix starts at 16.10 (14.10 CET.)
Baku, 27 April 2019 – The Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow SF90s were first and second fastest come the end of the final free practice session prior to qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the fourth round of the Formula 1 World Championship.
14 laps. Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel each completed 14 laps, setting their best times on the red-banded tyres in the second part of the session, as the track grip levels gradually improved. The Monegasque driver topped the time sheet with a 1’41”604, while the German stopped the clocks in a time around two tenths off his team-mate, in 1’41”802.
Qualifying. Qualifying starts at 17 (15 CET) with tomorrow’s race getting underway at 16.10 (14.10 CET)
Baku, 26 April 2019 – Friday at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was pretty much a half day, given that the scheduled three hours of track time was reduced to slightly less than 90 minutes. The first session was stopped after 13 minutes when a manhole cover came loose in the first sector of the 6.003 km long track, and did not re-start. Then, in the second session, there were two red flag interruptions, which reduced the scheduled time by 18 minutes. Therefore one cannot read too much into the lap times, as teams had to adjust their programmes to fit the available time.
FP1. In the first session, Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow was the only team to set a time. Charles Leclerc did 5 laps with a best time of 1’47”497. Sebastian Vettel did four, the fastest being a 1’49”598. Both drivers used the Medium tyre.
FP2. All the teams tried to make the most of the afternoon session. Charles and Sebastian worked on an evaluation of some aero updates fitted to the SF90. Then they focussed on set-up for the race and qualifying, using the Medium and Soft compounds, setting their fastest laps on the latter, doing 28 laps each. Charles did the fastest lap of the day in 1’42”872 and Sebastian was second in 1’43”196.
Programme. Tomorrow’s third and final practice session to prepare for the race and qualifying takes place at 14 local time. Qualifying is at 17 (15 CET). The race on Sunday gets underway at 16.10 (14.10 CET).
Charles Leclerc #16
“After a day like today, it’s difficult to get a clear picture of where we all stand, especially in terms of long run pace, when I think traffic was a factor. In qualifying trim, I felt comfortable, but also in this aspect, we will have to wait until tomorrow to get a clearer picture. However, we still have quite a bit of work to do to get the maximum out of the SF90 and that’s what we will concentrate on in the final free practice session. If we manage that, then we can be competitive.”
Sebastian Vettel #5
“It was a rather complicated Friday, because we weren’t able to do much running and the track was slippery and dusty. But it was fun all the same. So it took a while to get into a rhythm but overall I feel comfortable with the car. Maybe tomorrow we should be able to get a better idea of where we stand, because while I felt good in the car, there’s definitely still room for improvement. Tomorrow, we will continue working as it’s vital to get into a rhythm and have a good feel for the car and be totally confident about the track. I think qualifying will be very close, because I imagine our rivals will be very fast tomorrow.”
Baku, 26 April 2019 – The second free practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow SF90s end up at the top of the time sheet. In terms of the work sheet, it was very different to usual, because of the time lost in the morning, when there was only 13 minutes of track time.
28 laps. Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel began the session on the Medium tyres before switching to the Softs, with which they set their fastest times: 1’42”872 for Charles and 1’43”196 for Sebastian was good enough to top the time sheet.
Programme. Track action resumes tomorrow at 14 (12 CET) with the third and final free practice session, before qualifying gets underway at 17 (15 CET.) The race is on Sunday at 16.10 (14.10 CET.)
Baku, 26 April 2019 – The first free practice session for the Azerbaijan GP lasted just 13 minutes, before being red flagged when a manhole cover on a straight in the first sector of the track came loose.
Session stopped. Charles Leclerc drove his SF90 over the offending cover just before George Russell’s Williams was damaged when the cover lifted off. The session was immediately stopped so that the track could be cleaned up, but shortly afterwards it was decided that the session would not be re-started as all the other manhole covers on the track had to be checked before the track could be declared fit for purpose again.
Only Ferrari. Up to that point, the only two cars to have set a time were the two Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow SF90s. Charles Leclerc did five laps with a best time of 1’47”497, while Sebastian Vettel did four, the quickest in 1’49”598. The second session is due to start at 17 local time (15 CET.)
Baku, 25 April 2019 – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc spent their Thursday in Baku splitting their time between talking to media, having meetings with the engineers and walking the track. The two Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers walked round the street circuit here in the Azerbaijan capital, before the first full planning meeting with engineers and technicians prior to the start of track action tomorrow.
Ready to do well. Sebastian Vettel was first up in front of the press, telling them he was set for a busy Friday. “We have some updates that we will have to test and evaluate to decide if they can help us get the results we’re expecting.” As to the topic of their chances of fighting for the championship title, the German had no doubts about it. “We are still in the hunt. In the first three races, things did not go as we had expected and so maybe the competition got a bit more than they deserved, while we got a bit less. But we are working to turn things around. I still believe we have a very competitive package and if we manage to make it work properly we can be very quick and make life difficult for our rivals.”
This track has always smiled on me. Next up it was Charles Leclerc’s turn to face the media in the team hospitality and he began by repeating the fact he loves the Baku track. “I adore all the street circuits and I have to say that this one has always smiled on me, both in Formula 2 and Formula 1, as it was here last year that I scored my first points.” The Monegasque driver expects to be competitive this weekend and is aiming for the win, even if he insists he’s not obsessed with the idea of taking his first Formula 1 win. “If I have a goal, then it’s simply to do a good job, to work on getting everything out of the car and bring home the best result I can. Of course, I’m not saying I’m not impatient to take my first win at this the highest level, but I also know it’s wrong to focus more on the win than on doing the work. We will start like that and I am convinced we can get the results we are after.”
Timetable. The first two free practice sessions take place tomorrow, at 13 and 17, while on Saturday, after a final hour of practice at 14, comes the battle for pole position at 17. The race gets underway on Sunday at 16.10. Baku is 2 hours ahead of Central European Time.
Maranello, 23 April 2019 – Formula 1 is visiting Baku for the fourth time. The race first appeared on the calendar as the European GP in 2016. As from the following year, it changed its name to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Baku street circuit is one of three venues on the current calendar where Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow has never won. The other two are Sochi in Russia and Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. The best result for the Maranello squad at this venue was last year’s second place courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen.
The Azerbaijan capital has only recently featured on motorsport’s world stage, with the first race, a GT event, being held as recently as 2012. Nevertheless, the circuit was an immediate hit with the drivers who like the extremely high speeds experienced on the straights, especially on the start-finish one, which sees speeds in excess of 350 km/h.
The track features long straights and right-angle turns. That makes engine power a key requirement, while drivers have to brush the walls in search of a quick lap, using every inch of the track. There’s also a tighter section around turns 8,9,10 and 11, including the incredibly narrow section around the ancient castle, where good traction is the main requirement. The circuit map can be misleading, because it claims there are turns 17,18, 19 and 20 but this section is taken flat out and DRS can be deployed here.
Practice gets underway at 13 (11 CET) on Friday with the second session at 17 (15 CET) with qualifying at the same time on Saturday. The third Azerbaijan Grand Prix starts at 16.10 (14.10 CET) on Sunday over a distance of 51 laps.
Sebastian Vettel #5
“This six kilometre circuit has the longest straight on the calendar, 2.2 kilometres, where we reach 360 kph before the very heavy braking for the first slow left hand turn. The steep climb past the old city walls is only seven metres wide, which feels very tight in a Formula One car – you feel like you are threading a needle. There isn´t enough space for two cars here so you have to agree on the right of way between you! A big challenge at Baku is to find the right wing level to get good grip for the slow corners but also to be fast enough on the straights where we spend a lot of time at full throttle. It’s not an easy compromise.”
Charles Leclerc #16
“Azerbaijan is one of my favourite tracks of the season, I simply love it and I’ve always performed very well there, having won and got another podium finish in Formula 2 and also scored my first Formula 1 points last year. I always enjoy driving on it, especially the castle part with all those tight corners. It’s a unique track, you cannot find anything like it anywhere else in the world, so it’s pretty special. The rule is quite simple: never lose focus during the race otherwise at the first mistake you’re in the wall. Baku is a demanding track, but I can’t wait.”
Mattia Binotto Team Principal
Coming off the back of three races that definitely didn’t go the way we wanted, this GP is another important moment for us. We have prepared for it very well, analysing all the data we have acquired up until now, looking at areas where we can improve and working on adapting the car’s set-up and the power unit management to the characteristics of the track. In fact, Baku features a very long straight, which places special demands on the engine, both the internal combustion part as well as the hybrid elements. It’s relatively easy to overtake on this track, partly due to the DRS, especially this year as it has a greater effect than in the past. The track surface is very smooth, which means tyre wear is generally low, but as the tyres therefore generate less energy, it can be difficult to get them in the right working temperature range. We know from past experience that there’s a high probability of the Safety Car appearing on track in Baku and therefore it’s an important aspect to consider when looking at the race strategy. We are bringing a few updates to Baku, as the first step in the development of the SF90.