Ferrari made a huge admission on Tuesday, on the eve of the Formula 1 2020 season restart, when they said the team are taking “a significant change of direction in terms of development” after analysing testing data.
That means the car that they will race in the first two rounds in Austria will be the same as that with which they tested in Barcelona, back in February. Their updated car will then break cover at round three in Hungary.
As well as racing the same package in Austria, it is understood they will be using the same power unit, too, which means as per new regulations for this year, that engine will be largely frozen, with only one update permitted to the ERS elements or changes across the unit for reliability reasons pending approval from the FIA.
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“This weekend the car will run in the same configuration used towards the end of the Barcelona tests,” said Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto. “This doesn’t mean we have been twiddling our thumbs in the very limited time of just five and a half weeks in which we were able to work on the cars, because of the stringent procedures involved in working around the pandemic as well as the total shutdown of activities required by the FIA in agreement with the teams.
“The truth is that the outcome of the tests led us to take a significant change of direction in terms of development, especially on the aerodynamic front. First, we had to understand why we did not see the results we had expected on track and how much to recalibrate the whole programme as a result.
We know that, at the moment, we don’t have the fastest package
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto
“It would have been counterproductive to continue in the direction we had planned, knowing that we would not have reached our goals. Therefore we decided to come up with a new programme that looked at the whole car, knowing that not all of it would be ready for the first race. Our aim is to introduce the updates at the third race on 19 July at the Hungaroring.”
Ferrari, who failed to match Mercedes’ impressive pace in pre-season testing, were among the first to shut down production, with the area around their Maranello base among the first to suffer badly at the hands of the coronavirus. However, once the situation improved, Ferrari worked hard to find a way forward, and while the car will be the same in Austria, Binotto says lessons have been learned and can be applied.
“Over and above the actual development of the car itself, these past few weeks we have worked a lot on analysing its behaviour, with simulation work and with the help of our drivers and I think that will prove its worth in Austria,” he added.
“We know that, at the moment, we don’t have the fastest package. We knew it before heading for Melbourne and that hasn’t changed. Having said that, the Spielberg circuit has different characteristics to Montmelo and the temperatures will be well above those of February.
“In Austria, we must try and make the most of every opportunity and then in Hungary, with the new development step we are working on, we will be able to see where we are really compared to the others, while having to take into account the developments our competitors themselves will have brought along.”
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