File picture: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP.
File picture: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP.

Pressure on Vettel as Ferrari admits no full solution yet

By Christian Hollmann Time of article published Jun 20, 2019

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Le Castellet, France - Sebastian Vettel must overcome his anger over a five-second penalty which denied him victory at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday - on a French track where he was punished in the same way last year.

If that wasn't enough, the team principal of his Ferrari team freely admits that upgrades planned on the Paul Ricard circuit "won't be the solution to our problems."

Vettel is a massive 62 points behind leader and title holder Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes after his controversial penalty in Montreal when he came back from the grass in front of Hamilton while under pressure in a manoeuvre deemed dangerous by the race stewards.

Ferrari has now asked the ruling body FIA to review the decision that cost Vettel a first season victory after he crossed the line first in Canada.

But it remains unclear what new evidence they could present, and when the case would be dealt with.

Racing meanwhile resumes on the weekend in Le Castellet where Vettel lost the championship lead to Hamilton last year when he finished fifth  - penalised five seconds for driving into the rear of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas early on.

Team principal Mattia Binotti named the Le Castellet circuit "tricky" and admitted that planned upgrades for the eighth season race would not necessarily lead to instant improvement although they are keen to match Mercedes as Vettel and third-place finisher Charles Leclerc did in Canada.

"Following Canada we definitely want to get back on track and go racing with our rivals once again. In France we will have a few small evolutions, elements that represent for us a useful step in defining the direction we will take in developing the car," Binotti said.

"What we will be bringing won't be the solution to our problems, but the technical feedback we get from these evolutions will be important for the next steps we take."

Vettel will need to control his emotions if he wants to do well on the 5.842-kilometre track, after being furious over the Montreal penalty and insisting "it's not the sport that I fell in love with when I was watching."

Mercedes has meanwhile won all seven season races, five of them from Hamilton who also topped the podium last year in Le Castellet in what was the first race there in 28 years.

But they will be wary of Ferrari's challenge as motorsport chief Toto Wolff named Canada with several reliability issues "a wake-up call."

"We expect another tough fight in France next weekend," Wolff said. "The circuit features some similarities to Montreal and the long straights will present a challenge for us.

"However, unlike Canada, the corner characteristics are spread across a range of speeds, which should play to our advantage. We're looking forward to the chance to put a few things right again."


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