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03 | 11 | 2019 GP USA There was disappointment for Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow as it leaves Austin with just a fourth place finish courtesy of Charles Leclerc. In fact, the Monegasque driver had a tough time from Saturday onwards, when he had a power unit problem in free practice and he had to fall back on using a previous engine from then on. Sebastian had an even worse time of it, having to retire on lap 8 when a suspension component failed on his SF90.

Start. Neither Sebastian nor Charles got the best of starts off second and fourth places on the grid, both men losing one place each to Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton respectively. Seb struggled for grip on the opening lap with massive understeer and was passed by Hamilton and Charles and a bit later by Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. His race settled down from then on, but on lap 8 the right rear suspension broke and Sebastian had to retire.

Sebastian Vettel #5
“I am very disappointed that I had to retire, because I was hoping for a good race.
I had very poor grip on the first lap and had to let a lot of cars by. I struggled to get the car to work, especially in right hand corners, maybe something was already broken on the car. Then, after seven laps the suspension failed over the bump in turn 8.
At that time, I hadn’t done anything different to the previous laps over the whole weekend. I think today we had the potential for a podium, so it’s a shame. Finally, I want to congratulate Lewis for his wonderful achievement.”

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02 | 11 | 2019 GP USA 12 thousandths of a second. That was the infinitesimal gap that separated Sebastian Vettel from Valtteri Bottas’ pole time in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix. The German will thus start from second on the grid, when the race gets underway tomorrow at 13.10 local (20.10 CET). Lining up right behind him will be his team-mate Charles Leclerc, who had to settle for fourth place in what was the most closely contested qualifying session of the season with the top four drivers – Bottas, Seb, Verstappen and Charles – all within 108 thousandths.

Super teamwork. The Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow mechanics’ contribution to the fight for pole actually began halfway through the third free practice session. That’s when Charles’ SF90 was back in the garage after he’d had to park it at the side of the track on his installation lap, shortly after the start of the session, with an engine problem. The guys did an incredible job to change the Power Unit on the number 16 car in just over two hours. There is no penalty for Leclerc as the PU fitted had already been used this season.

Q1. Charles was first out on track to ensure everything was in working order and to assess the wind direction at the Circuit of the Americas, as it was gusting hard in some sections of the track. The Monegasque began with a 1’34”696, quickly getting down to a 1’33”988. Sebastian got through to Q2 with one run in 1’33”766.

Q2. In the second part of qualifying, which also decides which tyre compound is used for the start of the race, the two SF90s used Mediums to set almost identical times of 1’33”198 for Seb and 1’33”188 for Charles. They did one more run on the same compound to cover off any possible improvement from those running the Softs. Again the two men set similar times, Vettel posting a 1’32”782 and Charles a 1’32”760.

Q3. Both men each had two sets of Soft tyres for the final part of the session. On the first run the German did a 1’32”041, just 12 thousandths off Bottas, while the Monegasque managed a 1’32”227. On the second set, Vettel was unable to go quicker than his previous run, as was also the case for Bottas, but Charles improved to 1’32”137, which was not quite enough to take third spot on the grid, only 41 thousandths behind Max Verstappen.

Sebastian Vettel #5
“Tomorrow on the grid, I’ll be eight metres behind Valtteri, which will seem strange as the gap today in qualifying was definitely smaller! 12 thousandths is really very little and so I can definitely say I was a little bit unlucky.
I have to admit that, on my first run, there was maybe some room to be faster, as my aim was to set a good time and then improve on my second set of tyres. Unfortunately, I was a bit too aggressive and maybe the track had got a bit slower and that’s where the time that might have put me on pole, escaped me.
It’s not bad being on the front row here, as was proved by Kimi’s start last year. It will be important to get everything right at the start and not make any mistakes when it comes to our tyre strategy. We saw last Sunday that sometimes taking a risk can pay off, so we will study the situation very carefully before the start. Friday’s race pace wasn’t that strong, but I think all aspects of the car have improved today, so we will just have to see where we are in the race.”

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01 | 11 | 2019 GP USAAustin – On a Friday when all the teams had to deal with a very bumpy track surface, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were second and fourth fastest overall in free practice for the United States Grand Prix, setting their best times in the second session, by which time the track had rubbered-in and when the temperatures had risen compared to the 10 degrees air and 17 on track in the morning, which was more like the conditions seen in winter testing.

FP1. At the start of the first 90 minutes, the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers took to the track with the 2020 test tyres supplied to all teams by Pirelli. Sebastian had a trouble free time, but Charles had a throttle pedal problem, after hitting a bump in the track surface quite hard. It meant he lost around 30 minutes of track time while it was repaired. After that, Leclerc did one run on the 2020 test tyres, before switching to the Softs, which both drivers used to set their best times: Vettel a 1’34”226 and Leclerc a 1’34”126. However, the Monegasque’s time was deleted by the Race Direction as he was deemed not to have respected the track limits so his best time stood at 1’35”380 set on the 2020 test tyres.

FP2. In the afternoon session, Leclerc and Vettel began in qualifying trim, setting their best time of the day: Leclerc 1’33”533 and Vettel a 1’33”890. Then in the second half of the session, the cars ran in race configuration, carrying out the usual long runs and an evaluation of the different tyre compounds. Seb ran the Hard and Soft compounds, while Charles was on the Medium and Soft ones. As mentioned earlier, drivers had to deal with a very bumpy track surface, slightly worse than last year, so the teams had to adjust to this, advising the drivers how to tackle the braking and gear change points.

Sebastian Vettel #5
“It is always good fun here in Austin. The track is not in the best shape because of its bumps. But it is what it is and that makes it a bit special and more tricky for us. But I don’t think they can do anything to fix it now.
The car was good to start with, which is positive, but then we tried some things that did not seem to work so well. But we understand what we need to do so, hopefully for tomorrow we can improve in terms of our one lap pace. But I think that in race trim we have a bit more to do.
We know our strengths and weaknesses and in quali trim, we can mask the weaknesses a bit, whereas that is harder for us to do in race configuration. All the same, I’m quite confident we can improve the car. We will focus on that and see what we can achieve.”

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Foto © www.motorsportpics.de | Jerry Andre

27 | 10 | 2019 GP Mexiko / GP Mexico  Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow was hoping for something better than the second and fourth places for Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc respectively, with which it leaves the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. In what was a very closely contested race, the SF90 drivers found themselves having to come from behind, but were unable to overtake Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages.

Start. At the start, Charles and Sebastian both got away well off the front row although for a moment the German found Lewis Hamilton coming alongside having got a tow of the SF90, but he had no trouble in tucking in behind his team-mate. At first the Ferrari men managed their tyres, before gradually starting to push.

Pit stop. On lap 14, Alex Albon pitted in the Red Bull and Leclerc came in next time round, fitting another set of Medium tyres with a two stop strategy in mind. Hamilton stopped on lap 23, fitting Hards, gambling on a one stopper. On the new tyres Charles seemed to be able to run at a good pace, but after a few laps his times got worse until he was running at the same pace as Sebastian, who had yet to stop.

Only stop. Looking at Charles’ pace and the fact Hamilton had made an earlier stop, data from Friday and Saturday suggested the Englishman might be in trouble with tyre degradation in the closing stages. Sebastian and the team therefore decided to stay out until past half distance on lap 37, before fitting a set of Hard tyres to run to the flag, hoping to find their rivals struggling towards the end. Charles made his second stop on lap 43, which took three seconds longer than it should have done when the right rear wheel proved difficult to fit. Hamilton was now leading with just under four seconds in hand over Vettel, five on Bottas and 16 on Leclerc.

Final stages. Over the closing laps, the anticipated degradation for the early stoppers did not materialise and so Sebastian got within a second of Hamilton, but was unable to attack him for the lead. The top four finishers crossed the line within just six seconds. In under a week’s time we are back on track in Austin for the US GP.

Sebastian Vettel #5
“We didn’t get is so wrong today. It was simply a case of not believing that the hard tyres could last so long, considering how early in the race Lewis pitted. He took a risk and it paid off. For our part, we tried both strategies; two stops for Charles and one for me and the final result proves that both of them were good.
On Friday, we had a lot of graining, while today there was none and that made the difference, helping those who decided to take the risk.
Obviously, we can’t be pleased with this result, because when you start from the front row, as a team, you expect to win. In the closing laps we lacked the speed to try and go for the win. For Lewis and Valtteri, everything went really perfectly, while maybe we were just a bit unlucky.”

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Foto © www.motorsportpics.de | Jerry Andre

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GP Brasilien / Sao Paulo
17 | 11 | 2019

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