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25 | 10 | 2019 GP Mexiko / GP MexicoThe highest track of the year, at 2300 metres above sea level, hosted the first day of practice for the Mexican Grand Prix and it all went according to plan for Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow, getting through the full job list without any particular problems. After the two sessions, Sebastian Vettel was fastest in 1’16”607 and Charles Leclerc was third in 1’172”072.

FP1. At the start of the first session Charles and Seb both took to the track on Intermediate tyres, given that the track still had some damp patches after heavy overnight rain. The first half hour was therefore given over to practice starts and installation laps without setting times. When the track was dry enough, both SF90s were fitted with the Medium tyres, the only compound the team ran in the morning. Charles did a total of 23 laps, the quickest in 1’17”446, the second fastest of the session. Sebastian was sixth, doing 20 laps, the best in 1’18”218.

FP2. Both drivers began the 90-minute afternoion session still on the Medium tyres: Sebastian posted a 1’18”697 getting down to 1’17”960 on a second run. Charles did a 1’18”183, with lap times coming down as the track got rubbered-in. Once the session resumed after it was red flagged when Alexander Albon went off track, the SF90s went back out on Soft tyres for the first time, as they ran a qualifying simulation. Vettel was quickest at this stage in 1’16”607, with Charles fractionally slower in 1’17”072.

Long run. In the final third of the session, the programme as usual switched to race preparation, doing runs with a high fuel load. Sebastian started on Medium tyres, before finishing on the Softs, running at a pretty consistent pace, while Charles did the opposite. By the end of the day, the team had got through all its programme without any problems. Vettel did 35 laps, Leclerc did 34.

Programme. The third free practice session begins at 10 local tomorrow (17 CET) useful in terms of preparing for qualifying at 13 (20 CET). The Mexican Grand Prix gets underway on Sunday at 13.10 local (20.10 CET).

Sebastian Vettel #5
“This morning I was the gardener of Turn 1, in terms of going through the grass. I like mowing the lawn and I did it this morning a couple of times but didn’t need to do it again in the afternoon, since I was able to find the rhythm and everything went smoothly from then on.
Charles and I split the work today. I did most of the work on the Medium tyre, which was ok. We don’t look that bad, but I don’t have the full picture yet. I did only two laps on new Softs so it’s difficult to say, but I don’t think I had the worst tyre today for the long runs.
However there are still some areas where we can improve tomorrow in terms of the general balance and the feeling I have with the car. Max (Verstappen) looks strong, but all the three top teams are very close, so .”

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Foto © www.motorsportpics.de | Jerry Andre

24 | 10 | 2019 GP Mexiko / GP Mexico Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, and indeed the other Formula 1 drivers, had an early start today, as the Thursday media activity is timed to better suit the time constraints of European press deadlines. Shortly after nine, the drivers and their engineers tackled the usual track walk around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, before getting on with press work. In the afternoon, engineering meetings and technical briefings were on the agenda, in preparation for the start of track action tomorrow.

In the press conference. Sebastian Vettel was one of the drivers called to attend the first official press conference of the Grand Prix weekend and said he was ready for what is bound to be a tough race. “We’re favourites? I don’t know, but we have definitely been doing well recently in terms of our car performance in tight sections of track. We are strong down the straights, but on a track like this, that in itself might not be enough. We will need to get an understanding of how the car behaves in the twisty parts.” Many factors will affect the outcome of Sunday’s race. “The weather could affect the level of grip on track therefore it’s hard to know now what sort of problems we might face. It will be important to gather a lot of date in tomorrow’s free practice,” concluded Vettel.

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Foto © www.motorsportpics.de | Jerry Andre

13 | 10 | 2019 GP JapanScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow leaves Suzuka and the Japanese Grand Prix having picked up a second place with Sebastian Vettel and a seventh with Charles Leclerc. That definitely did not live up to expectations given the front row lockout in qualifying held at 10 in the morning because of the Hagibis typhoon. Sebastian paid the price for a hesitant start, while Charles had to deal with the after-effects of a coming together with Max Verstappen at the first corner. The Dutchman spun, while the Monegasque had to pit after three laps to change his damaged front wing, which meant he had to fight back from last place.

Start. For both Ferraris, the race got complicated right from the start. Sebastian hesitated when the lights went out and Valtteri Bottas got ahead of him and Charles got wheelspin so he was slow off the line and Verstappen came around the outside of him. Bottas led into turn 1 followed by Vettel, Leclerc, Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. It was here that the Ferrari and Red Bull tangled and that would complicate Leclerc’s race. He worked his way up from 20th to seventh before his second pit stop and was sixth before making a third visit to the pits on lap 46, when it was clear he would not lose any places. After the race, the stewards reviewed the incident between Leclerc and Verstappen and imposed a 15 second time penalty on our driver, which thus drops Charles from sixth to seventh place.

Two stops. Sebastian was able to match Bottas’ pace and manage Hamilton who was behind him, but as from lap 14, he began to lose ground to the leader. Two more laps and the team called him in for his first stop, fitting another set of Softs so he could keep attacking. On the following lap, Bottas pitted and got out ahead of Vettel, while Hamilton waited until lap 21 for his stop, at which point Sebastian moved back up to second. The German came in for his second stop on lap 31, his SF90 now running on Mediums as he rejoined in third place. Five laps later, Bottas made his second stop, handing the lead to Hamilton who then pitted on lap 42, rejoining right behind Vettel, but the German managed to fend him off for six laps to the chequered flag, with a skilful drive that made use of all his car’s performance.

Next stop North America. This was Scuderia Ferrari’s 17th podium of the season, the eighth for Sebastian. Now the World Championship has a weekend off to charge its batteries before heading off for a double header in North America, starting with the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday 22 October followed by the USA race on 3 November.

Sebastian Vettel #5
“We had a very good morning, but the afternoon was less good in terms of the result we were able to achieve as a team.
The start wasn’t good for either me or Charles and without that, we could have had both cars fighting at the front. It was difficult today and to be fair. Our rivals were simply quicker, Valtteri was just flying.
I had a poor start, I was a bit early with the clutch initially then clutched in again and lost a bit of momentum. Usually our starts are very good but not this time. After that we were missing out a little bit in terms of speed in the race compared to our rivals. We went through the tyres more than Valtteri and Lewis. Especially at the end of the stints they were dropping off a bit more, whereas our rivals kept the pace throughout.
Towards the end my only target was to stay ahead of Lewis. I knew that down the straights he struggled to overtake, so I just tried to have clean exits in the places where it mattered.”

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Foto © www.motorsportpics.de | Jerry Andre

11 | 10 | 2019 GP Japan  It was a busier Friday than usual here today. Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow, along with the nine other teams had to make the most of today’s track time, given that the circuit will be closed tomorrow and free practice 3 is cancelled while qualifying is postponed to Sunday morning at 10. All this is because of the imminent arrival of typhoon Hagibis which is meant to hit the Mie Prefecture overnight and last throughout Saturday. By Sunday, sunny and dry conditions are expected.

FP1. The first session ran pretty much as normal, with work focussing on set-up and tyre evaluation. Sebastian Vettel completed 26 laps and Charles Leclerc did 20. The German’s best time was a 1’29”720 while the Monegasque did a 1’29”912.

Programme change. Before the second session, the organisers announced the change to the timetable for Saturday and Sunday. It meant that the 90 minute afternoon session took on greater importance than usual because, if for any reason, it was not possible to run qualifying on Sunday morning, then the FP2 timesheet would decide the starting grid.

FP2. Therefore it was an intense afternoon, with two attempts at a quick lap, one at the start and one towards the end when the track was more rubbered-in. In between those runs, the team worked towards the race with long runs to analyse the Medium and Soft compounds.

65 laps. Charles started off with a 1’29”686 on the Medium tyres and got down to a 1’28”392 on the Softs. At the end, on new Softs he stopped the clocks in 1’28″141. Sebastian started with a 1’30”203 then did a 1’28”424 on the Softs before getting down to 1’28”376 towards the end, when he was slowed by the high volume of traffic on track.

Back on Sunday. Right now, the paddock is busying itself with ensuring that all equipment is safely stowed and dismantling much of the infrastructure that could be in the path of Hagibis. Tomorrow, the track will be shut down, with only personnel essential to the manteinence of critical systems allowed to be on site. The new timetable means qualifying will now take place on Sunday at 10 (3.00 CET) and the race starts as planned at 14.10 local (7.10 CET).

Sebastian Vettel #5 “Today, was not too bad, at least it was better than it looked. We are in reasonable shape, but maybe we are lacking a bit of pace overall. Our rivals looked very comfortable right from the start of practice and they confirmed that pace in FP2. I think we have a bit of room for improvement as it wasn’t an ideal session, in terms of how we made use of our tyres. I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow: relax and maybe do some indoor sports. On Sunday there will be a big question mark over the state of the track as tomorrow’s wind and rain will have an effect.”

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Foto © www.motorsportpics.de | Jerry Andre

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