Formula 1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn believes Ferrari has no idea “what on earth happened” to its pace at the Australian Grand Prix after its strong showing during pre-season testing.

Ferrari had been fancied as the fastest team with its 2019 F1 car, the SF90, from pre-season testing at Circuit de Catalunya but throughout the opening round at Albert Park the Italian manufacturer remained off the pace of Mercedes.

During the race both Ferrari drivers dropped behind Red Bull Honda’s Max Verstappen to see Sebastian Vettel finish fourth and Charles Leclerc in fifth, with the latter told to hold station behind his German teammate.

Both drivers struggled for pace during the race but in different stints and on different tyres, potentially confusing the cause of Ferrari’s pace drop even more, and Brawn feels the reason for the team’s struggles remains unclear to the squad itself.

“From the outside, it’s hard to tell what went wrong and, listening to the drivers and engineers, it seems that even within the team they have not yet been able to identify what on earth happened,” Brawn said. “Neither Vettel nor Leclerc were ever really competitive at any point over the weekend.

“Ferrari arrived in Australia with the wind in its sails, after going very well over the eight days of winter testing. It seemed certain they would be fighting for victory, but instead, they didn’t even make it to the podium.”

Driver Ratings - Australia GP

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Brawn, who guided Ferrari to five straight F1 world title doubles between 2000-2004 with Michael Schumacher, feels the surprise performances were complicated further by the impressive pace from the Ferrari-powered Haas squad who led the F1 midfield battle and edged towards the factory squad. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen finished the Australian Grand Prix less than 20 seconds behind Leclerc in sixth place.

“Apart from lagging behind Mercedes, more surprising was the gap to the Haas team. The US squad uses the Ferrari Power Unit and had closed on the works team considerably since Barcelona testing,” he said.

“Even if it’s true that the Albert Park circuit is unusual and does not really reflect the true pecking order, it’s also true that the same number of points is given out after the race than at any other track.

“Mattia Binotto, still settling in to his joint role as Team Principal and Technical Director, is very experienced and knows that the first job now is to study the data from the weekend and see what it throws up, without getting into a panic. It’s only mid-March and the championship ends in December.”

 

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