Ferrari driver #16 Charles Leclerc at the 2024 British GP

Formula 1 News: Boss denies lack of focus caused Ferrari slump

(GMM) Even Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko applauded a return to the top step for Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone, after a long three-year winning drought for the seven time world champion. But Hamilton has decided to leave surging Mercedes for slumping Ferrari.

“You can only congratulate him,” the Austrian told Sky Deutschland after the British GP. “You could see his strength in terms of tire management, that shows how much experience and speed he still has.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, 1st position, lifts the winners trophy during the British GP at Silverstone Circuit on Sunday July 07, 2024 in Northamptonshire, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)

Hamilton, however, is leaving the resurgent Mercedes team at the end of the season for Ferrari – and the man he is replacing, Carlos Sainz Jr., is now enviously eyeing the yet-to-be-filled silver cockpit for 2025.

Ferrarii driver Carlos Sainz Jr. at the 2024 British GP

“Look at where Mercedes was six races ago and where they are now,” said the Spaniard after finishing P5 on Sunday, despite insisting that it was “one of the most solid” races of his entire career.

“The picture is clear,” Sainz added. “They (Mercedes) are developing better. We have neither confidence nor pace.

“Our rivals have improved their cars and added tenths, while we have lost two or three months of development. We have not made the right decisions recently, but we have returned to a car that we know, and we have to continue improving it from there,” he said.

“Now we need some time in the wind tunnel and at home to sort out a new package that will really bring us performance.”

Indeed, so deep are Ferrari’s current developmental problems that the team completely abandoned its latest upgrade at Silverstone to avoid “bouncing” and reverted to the Imola-spec car.

“It’s been a nightmare for three or four races unfortunately,” Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc said on Sunday. “The main problem is the pace we have been losing for a while.”

One theory is that, a little like Red Bull, Ferrari has been distracted lately amid rumors of Adrian Newey’s arrival and the possible departure of technical director Enrico Cardile.

Team boss Frederic Vasseur rejects that idea.

Ferrari F1 boss Fred Vasseur
Ferrari F1 boss Fred Vasseur

“It’s the people outside the team who talk about Adrian and Enrico,” he insisted at Silverstone. “We never start our debriefings talking about these things.”

Vasseur also denied that preparations for life with British GP winner Hamilton next year may have affected Ferrari’s focus. “I am happy for Lewis,” he said, “but I am focused on this season.

“We have enough to talk about today and I don’t want to think about that. We will have time to talk about Lewis and welcome him this winter.

“Now let’s focus on the job to do. We are still second in the constructors’ and we have 70 points to catch up to Red Bull, but if we can score points with two cars we can reduce this gap.”

Vasseur admits that the upgrade package introduced in Barcelona has been a major issue for Ferrari.

“We did a test between the two packages on Friday and we decided to converge on just one package on Saturday,” said the Frenchman. “If we look at the race that Carlos did here, the potential was not so bad. After 25 laps he was a tenth from Max (Verstappen).”

Vasseur said Ferrari will “decide in Budapest” next time out how to proceed with the currently-paused Barcelona upgrade.

“I think Silverstone is one of the most aggressive circuits in terms of bouncing, which is one of our weak points,” he admitted. “Today we fixed it and this can give us optimism for the next race.”

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