Ferrari Formula 1 chief Mattia Binotto says the team has prepared “very well” for this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix as it faces an “important moment” following a difficult start to the 2019 season.

Ferrari failed to seriously challenge Mercedes for victory in either Australia or China, and saw its chance of winning in Bahrain pass by after a power unit issue caused Charles Leclerc’s car to slow in the closing stages when leading.

Mercedes has surged into 57-point lead in the constructors’ championship after recording three one-two finishes, leaving Ferrari facing a crucial point in its season as it prepares to head to the Baku City Circuit.

“Coming off the back of three races that definitely didn’t go the way we wanted, this GP is another important moment for us,” Binotto said in the team’s race preview.

“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 setup 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.”

Sebastian Vettel sits fourth in the F1 drivers’ championship for Ferrari, 31 points back from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, with Leclerc a further point behind in fifth.

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