21:26 – The first free practice sessions in Austria actually confirmed for Ferrari what was already expected after the winter tests: Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc do not seem to be able to claim the pole position or the win, and will have to put up a lot to participate for the stage.
At the end of Friday, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto found his drivers in fourth (Vettel) and ninth (Leclerc) positions. That is not the start that was hoped for in Maranello, but after the disappointing winter tests it should not come as a surprise that the Scuderia does not participate in the first spot. Judging by the workouts, Mercedes seems to be in a class of its own, while the pace of Red Bull Racing and Racing Point was at least equivalent to what Ferrari exhibited.
Sebastian Vettel spoke of a ‘reasonable’, but hassle-free day after the Friday sessions. However, the training confirmed the suspicions that Ferrari probably did not build a top car. “It was an interesting day in terms of speed and competitiveness. I think we’ve seen that we are not at the top, that we are not the favorites.” Participating in the battle for pole position is not possible according to the four-time world champion, who has to leave Ferrari at the end of the year. There are several factors that Vettel blames: “It’s up to us to develop and work to make the car faster. We lack grip and downforce compared to others, so it’s a mix of all of these.”
Teammate Charles Leclerc, who signed a new contract last winter that will connect him to Ferrari until the end of 2024, is disappointed that the Scuderia is no longer at the front. “All cars are close together, which is exciting to see on the one hand, but on the other hand we would like to fight a little further towards the front of the field. The balance of the car is not so bad, but in terms of overall performance we have to make up for it. ” Also Leclerc cannot pinpoint a specific factor that makes Ferrari short. “The lack of speed is not a specific thing, so we’ll try other things tomorrow and see if we can find some speed.”