Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has admitted they face an “important” weekend at the Azerbaijan GP as they bid to ignite their world championship challenge.
The Italian team have also confirmed their car will feature a “few updates” as they look to counter rivals Mercedes’ undefeated start to F1 2019.
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Underperformance in Australia and China, combined with unreliability when leading in Bahrain, mean Ferrari have only a solitary podium finish to show for the season’s opening three rounds.
“Coming off the back of three races that definitely didn’t go the way we wanted, this GP is another important moment for us,” said Binotto, Ferrari’s team principal.
“We have prepared for it very well, analysing all the data we have acquired up until now, looking at areas where we can improve and working on adapting the car’s set-up and the power unit management to the characteristics of the track.”
Binotto also revealed that the Baku street race represents the “first step in the development of the SF90”, Ferrari’s 2019 car, with the challenger poised to undergo aerodynamic upgrades.
The low-drag traits of Ferrari’s car allowed them to outperform Mercedes in a straight line in both Bahrain and China, yet the world champions displayed superior concerning speed and were faster over a complete lap at the latter.
Baku features the longest straight of the season, but also an array of slower 90-degree turns earlier on in the 2.2km lap.
Speaking after victory in China, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton said he expected Baku’s high-speed sections to suit Ferrari.
“It will be interesting to see how long they adopt that strategy in the coming races,” said Hamilton.
“In some places it will be great, like probably the next race, but other places maybe not so much. There are still so many races where their car will perhaps outshine ours.”
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