Amid Ferrari induced hype that they are ever-improving, the great Italian team endured a terrible qualifying for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, neither car making it out of Q2 and all their customers stranded in Q1.
“A disappointing Saturday” is how Ferrari headlined their post-qualifying press release. For long-suffering Tifosi make that a miserable Saturday.
The Ferrari SF21 was abysmal all weekend, ill at ease by the challenges of Spa-Francorchamps, and not good at all in the rain. Proof being that in qualifying, Charles Leclerc was only good for 11th and Carlos Sainz 13th.
Also, Leclerc appears to be overdriving as he tends to do when trying to match unattainable lap times with the kit he has at his disposal. His crash in FP2 a testament to trying too hard with too little.
Leclerc said in the team report from Spa qualy: “Qualifying was tricky for us today. It was a shame as I was quite satisfied with the car balance and our overall performance wasn’t bad considering the track conditions. With hindsight, maybe it would have been better to delay the tyre change in Q2, but that’s easy to say after the event.”
His expectations are not high for Sunday: “Now we have to concentrate on the race. It will be tough but at the same time, exciting with the weather no doubt playing an important role.”
Sainz too was below par with what he had on the day and echoed his teammate: “It has been a difficult weekend so far, especially today. We kind of expected it after the feeling we had from FP3.
“I’m not happy because I always enjoy driving in the wet. However, the balance and the grip weren’t there today. We struggled to get the front temperatures up and we had no feeling under braking. We need to look into it.
“Also, today was about getting out on track at the right time with the right tyre. With rain coming and going so quickly it was very difficult to get it right and we might have lost a bit of lap time there too, but it’s always easier to say it with hindsight.”
“Lets see what the weather brings tomorrow. We’ll do our best to get the best result possible,” added the Ferrari driver
It was even worse for their customer teams, the Ferrari powered Haas and Alfa Romeo brigade cemented to the foot of the timing screens at the end of Q1 with AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda for company to compound a truly miserable day for the Reds.
Racing director Laurent Mekies summed up his team’s Saturday: “Our qualifying performance was well below our usual standard and so far this whole weekend has proved very difficult for us. We have not yet managed to get the most out of our car, neither in the dry nor in the wet, although the situation has improved slightly.
“When the conditions change very quickly, as they did today, it’s never easy to find the right moment to go out, while it’s always easy to judge with hindsight. Having said that, it’s what happens tomorrow afternoon that counts, after the chequered flag has been waved.
“We can expect to have a very tough race, presumably running in similar conditions to today’s. Therefore the priority will be to stay calm and make the most of any opportunities that come our way,” added Mekies.
Both Ferrari drivers had a word for McLaren driver Lando Norris who set the pace before having a big shunt as conditions worsened.
Leclerc said: “I think that the most important thing for all of us today is to see Lando walk away from his crash unharmed.”
Sainz added: “I’m glad Lando walked away unharmed from that scary crash.” (Additional reporting by Agnes Carlier)