In a week that saw things go from bad to worse for the Scuderia, it’s not surprise they dominated the headlines after the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
Usually when you say this is “somebody’s” week, it’s a good thing. When it’s Ferrari’s week, as this was? Not so much.
Everywhere you look, there’s something to do with the reds, and none of it was positive. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Leclerc left out in the cold: the biggest story from Sunday’s race, the ill-fated swap of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel has everyone talking. Was Seb fast enough to warrant the swap? Did Ferrari wait too long to do it? And how much did driver politics play into the decision? All those questions and more have made it quite the contentious issue, with the only certainty being that they really don’t need more problems – speaking of which…
Diagnosing the SF90: The mystery everyone is trying to solve after China: how does a car go from being the undisputed fastest in Bahrain, show up in Shanghai and trail Mercedes – who couldn’t even run their intended front wing – by 0.3s a lap?
According to Auto Motor und Sport’s Michael Schmidt (and thanks to u/balls2brakeLate44 for the translation on reddit) the problem is threefold: one, the engine is a particularly temperamental beast, and can rarely be run at full power, two: the aero isn’t quite good enough to compensate in the corners, and three: they struggle to consistently get the tyres working.
If Schmidt is anywhere close to the money (and I think he is), that means it’s both good and bad news for the Scuderia, as none of the problems are terminal, and yet while they’ve managed to build a car capable of winning the championship, they can’t be sure it will perform well enough, often enough to actually do it.
Vettel slams the media: Not a happy chappy in the wake of his P3 in Shanghai, Vettel decided to use the post-race press conference as a chance to take a shot at journalists, and, well… it’s gone down about as well as you’d expect. To be fair, there are definitely some elements of the media who will take his remarks and twist them, but it’s a little unfair to tar all of us with the same brush.
As a media member (kinda) myself, I feel remarks like these often come from a misunderstanding whether a quote is being interpreted or manipulated, but most fall on the side of the former, and that’s perfectly ok. Also, be sure to check out Paul’s thoughts on the matter.
And now for the non-Ferrari stuff…
Hamilton’s Adaptability on Display: Considering how easy he made it look on Sunday, it’s stories like these that make you appreciate just how special a driver Lewis Hamilton is. While he might not be on the level of Fernando Alonso in terms of adaptability – not that he’s been given a similar opportunity to drive so many crap cars – we should remember races like China the next time someone throw’s out the old “yeah, but he had the best car.” Just because it seems simple, doesn’t always mean it is.
Max Verstappen, Leading Authority on Driver Etiquette? At least, that’s what Verstappen would have you believe with his remarks after Saturday qualifying, arguing there was an “unwritten rule” that cars don’t pass each other when queueing for a flying lap – an argument that was quickly squashed by Lewis Hamilton on Instagram. See Max, the problem with unwritten rules is they’re often a bit unclear – probably because they’re, you know, unwritten.