Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admits he was expecting more from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after qualifying on pole position with Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc secured his second consecutive pole position and unlike Monaco, was able to lead away from the front in the opening few laps. Once he was overtaken by Lewis Hamilton and dropped out of DRS range, however, Leclerc started falling quickly through the field and ended up fourth in a race that saw both Hamilton and Max Verstappen retire ahead of him.
“Not the best race from us,” Binotto said. “I think we were expecting something better after the quali, because it was a difficult race. We have not been perfect in many areas, and I think overall the result is what it is, but as usual, it may be a lesson learned. There are things that can be improved. I’m pretty sure that reviewing the entire race, we will find areas of improvement and that’s important for us.
“Overall, I think it’s still a good weekend and we should keep our heads up and positive. We had (secured) a pole, which I think was outstanding. Second pole in a row, showing the progress of the team and the car. I think that finally we are third in the constructors’ championship, since the restart of the season, it never happened – it’s only by two points, but it’s showing we are progressing.
“I think there are positives in the weekend, but certainly again as I said, things to be learned, and I think from now we’ve got three races in a row in the next weeks, which will be important. So certainly the team, we remain focused, concentrated and fighting to get better in the future.”
An intense weekend in Azerbaijan
Goodbye Baku, see you soon
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari)
Leclerc himself says part of the reason he lost the lead to Hamilton so early was because a tree branch fell onto the track at the penultimate braking zone and he cut the apex to avoid it.
“It was starting to be quite OK in the first few laps,” Leclerc said. “Then there was something that I think hasn’t been seen on TV. A tree? Not a full tree. There was part of a tree in the middle of Turn 15, and there I actually lost quite a bit of time, because I cut the track and I was a bit worried to gain time on Lewis behind who hadn’t cut the track.
“So I slowed down and then he overtook me, and then from then on, it was quite difficult because I was behind Lewis in dirty air, which I struggled a little bit. As soon as I lost the DRS, Max overtook me, and then you are just in a vicious circle that is very difficult because I had cars all around me that had a bit more pace than I did. So I struggled a little bit.”