Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc’s boss Mattia Binotto admits Ferrari aren’t fit to bear the name of F1’s most illustrious team at present. The struggling Italians endured another nightmare day on Saturday as Vettel and Leclerc qualified in 10th and 11th respectively for the Styrian Grand Prix.
Leclerc failed to get out of Q2 and his disappointment was compounded when he was handed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race after being deemed to have impeded AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat.
Ferrari face a battle to secure serious points at the Red Bull Ring this weekend, with Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault and even AlphaTauri all faster than them in qualifying.
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Binotto, who is in his second season as Ferrari team principal, admits the Italians are well off the pace of F1’s leading teams.
And he says the fact they have now slipped behind behind their lower-profile rivals means plenty of hard work is on the horizon.
“A really disappointing day,” said Binotto after qualifying on Saturday. “We have to accept that the stopwatch doesn’t ever lie.
“In two qualifying sessions, albeit in different conditions, we have not been competitive, not only against those who have been our closest rivals over the past few years, but also against others, who up to yesterday were generally behind us.
“We worked very hard to bring updates to the car earlier than planned, but they didn’t show their worth on track.
“We have to work out why and change this state of affairs, which is just not good enough for a team by the name of Ferrari. We mustn’t get het up about it, but we cannot ignore the facts.”
Ferrari have not secured an F1 title since Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa’s efforts helped them snatch the World Constructors’ Championship in 2008.
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Fernando Alonso and Vettel have since come close to glory, but Ferrari have lost their status as the team to beat at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Mercedes have enjoyed six seasons of dominance in the hybrid era, spearheaded by reigning champion Lewis Hamilton.
Binotto is under pressure to end Mercedes’ spell of superiority and his team rushed through an upgrades package originally planned for next week’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ferrari have already confirmed they will shake up their driver line-up for next season, with the departing Vettel set to be replaced by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.
Sainz outqualified Vettel and Leclerc on Saturday and will start the Styrian Grand Prix from third on the grid.
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