“On Friday we didn’t face this issue,” said Sainz. “And we were probably inside that narrow window of performance that we have, and we looked very strong on race pace. Also our front wear numbers didn’t look bad, we were actually looking reasonable, that’s why [Saturday] night we went to bed very confident.
“On the laps to the grid, the track was very, very tricky. I actually had a moment there, I nearly lost the car in Turn 11. So this already told me that the track was in very, very different conditions.
“But it’s not an excuse, because the others, with the very different conditions, a track one and a half seconds slower than Friday, they didn’t have graining, and we did. Which means we just have a narrower window of performance, and we need to work on our car understanding to see how we can make this window wider and better.”
So how does the team address it? As noted the development freeze is a huge handicap, and in essence changes are limited to the bodywork – the team cannot even introduce new wheel rims with different aero characteristics that might help it to address the tire overheating issues.
The other problem is that all teams are devoting more and more resources to their 2022 projects, and the current problems are an unwelcome distraction. In fact Binotto admits that the focus has to be on not having similar tire issues with the new car.
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“I obviously think we may improve the situation,” but to solve it I think we need to have some hardware change, like for example the rims, which is not possible by regulation. I think it’s more important for us at this stage really to try to understand and to address it definitely for next year.
“In the meanwhile I think this issue may happen again on some races, but not all the tracks. It is somehow quite track and weather conditions-related. But we need to prepare ourselves to face such a situation in the future, and at least try to mitigate the problem, since it will happen again this year.”
“I don’t have an answer right now” Mattia Binotto
Refreshingly – and perhaps worryingly for Ferrari fans – Binotto also admitted that the team is a little lost at the moment, and doesn’t know if there’s a fundamental issue in the car that is making life so hard for the tires.
“I don’t have an answer right now. I think what we need is really to be back, analyze all the data, have a brainstorming, do some simulations. I think that will be part of the homework that we need to do, as Carlos mentioned before. So I think that right now, I cannot answer the question.”
Austria will be an interesting case study, as there are two weekends on the trot, and thus plenty of opportunity for the team to experiment and get things right. It will be interesting to see if Binotto’s men can make any progress.