After Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) went off pace in Australia, it return during Friday practice in Bahrain.
Sebastian Vettel and teammate Charles Leclerc were split by 0.035s at the Top of the time-sheets and held a significant 0.6s advantage over Lewis Hamilton’s MercedesAMG in 3rd place.
Friday’s lap times were more in line with expectations from pre-season testing and add weight to the theory that MercedesAMGs’ dominance in Australia was a a fluke. They also suggest Ferrari has found and addressed the problem that held it back so much in Melbourne.
The data suggests Ferrari was running a more aggressive engine mode than its rivals in Friday practice and the rest of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend may be closer.
“I think the results of today are misleading,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said. “I’m expecting quite a different situation tomorrow in qualifying, expecting our competitors to be very strong again
“But certainly from what we’ve seen today the situation is quite different to Australia, which means we have progressed, and we have progressed compared to Australia.
“Will that be sufficient? I don’t know. We need to work on our car based on the feeling and the data we’ve got today, let’s try to improve it for tomorrow.”
The long run data also hints at a much closer battle between the Top 3, with MercedesAMG looking like the fastest car over a long run on the high-degradation soft compound and the Ferrari and Red Bull Racing looking strong on the more durable mediums.
Mr. Binotto played down the suggestion that cooling had been the root cause of the problem in Australia, but agreed Ferrari had its engine turned up higher.
“I will not go into details on what happened [in Australia], that’s our matter,” he said. “I saw a lot of speculation on the newspapers and internet and what I read is not fully true. We did not have issues of cooling, I may tell you that. At the end, in Australia, it has been a sum of many factors, from the power unit to the set up to tyre management. And I think it’s only the sum of what we have seen in Australia.
“I think tomorrow [in qualifying] it will be certainly a tough battle. The others will be very strong tomorrow. It’s quite obvious, you may see the GPS data, the speed on the straights, we were certainly pushing different engine modes compared to what the others were pushing.
“We’re expecting a tough battle tomorrow, but I think more important is staying focused on ourselves, we improved our situation after Australia. This one is quite a different track. Let’s say we didn’t have today the problem we suffered in the Australia, thanks to the track and thanks to the modification we made.”
The good news is that we are likely to see a more competitive race this weekend that is more in line with the order we saw in pre-season testing.
Sure, it only Friday practice, but the early indications are that Ferrari holds the edge in here
F1 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix start time, how to watch
- Date: Sunday, 31 March
- Time: 11:05a EDT
- TV channel: ESPN2
- Live stream: ESPN app
Ferrari is the Aristocrat of the automotive sector.
HeffX-LTN overall technical outlook for RACE is Bullish across the board, and there is very little resistance here and none above 140.26. All of our Key indicators are Very Bullish in here.