Ferrari not getting their hopes up after Monaco podium, ready for “complicated part of the season”

The Italian team is two points behind McLaren in the fight for third in the constructors’ championship

By Olivia Kairu

Carlos Sainz Jr. equalled his best career result at the Monaco GP, achieving his first podium with Ferrari (Photo: Ferrari/Twitter)

What’s next for Ferrari?

The Italian team’s stellar weekend in Monaco, setting the pole position with Charles Leclerc and finishing the race second with Carlos Sainz Jr., is evidence of the gains they have made with the SF21 car. However, the Scuderia is not getting their hopes up in terms of replicating the same level of performance in the rest of the season.

In preparation for the Azerbaijan GP this weekend, Ferrari’s pre-race simulations suggest they will slip back into fourth in the pecking order behind McLaren and into a close mid-field fight with Alpine, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri.

“Now begins a part of the season that promises to be complicated for us,” said Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies. “If in Spain the SF21 was clearly the third-best in the field and in Monaco even showed the potential to win, the situation is set to be different in the next races, starting with Baku.”

“Already this weekend (in Arzebaijan) we expect a very strong McLaren, which should adapt very well to the characteristics of the circuit and therefore take the leadership of the group behind the two teams fighting for the world championship. We also believe that Alpine, AlphaTauri and Aston Martin will also be very competitive.”

Ferrari is only two points behind McLaren in the fight for third in the constructors’ championship, showing great improvement from the though 2020 season that saw them finish sixth in the standings. Sainz’s podium was the team’s first since the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix when Sebastian Vettel finished third.

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto wants to think about one race at a time, but also said they will be introducing new upgrades before the summer break after which they will focus on the development of their 2022 car.

”I think yes, there will be circuits with low-speed corners where we may be again competitive but it’s not a given,” he said. “Instead of thinking which circuit again will be competitive, I think we’re already focused on Baku, which is the next one and then we will be focused on the following, because there is still some room of exploiting better the car.”

“I think that we showed we are well preparing the race weekend, we can at least exploit the best potential of the car itself. There will be some developments coming, not much, but they are still coming and it’s important that they are working properly.”

What about the drivers?

Sainz Jr. salvaged what had the potential to be a devastating weekend in the Principality after driving an excellent race to finish P2 behind Max Verstappen. Although ecstatic about the victory and performance improvement, the Spaniard shed a grim light on Ferrari’s situation in Baku and future races this season. 

“Certainly, I think the car did well in Monaco and that is important (but) I think going to Baku still we are competing for the third place, and that is where we are at the moment.”

Although the Azerbaijan GP is also a street circuit, it bears little resemblance to the streets of Monaco. The circuit demands incredible speeds from the cars, especially on the 2.2 kilometres straight, the longest of the calendar, that requires speeds of over 370 km/h. This may prove challenging for Ferrari’s package.

“Just look at the characteristics of Monaco and try to see which one is the closest to this. You will not find many, and even those circuits you may think of, it doesn’t mean we are going to be fighting for pole or fighting for a podium,” Sainz Jr. said.

“Mercedes and Red Bull, I believe they still have an advantage on us and it will be very tricky to find ourselves fighting for pole positions or a win. That’s why this weekend is also a bit of a tough one to swallow, as you don’t know when the next chance will come.”

Leclerc’s continued streak of never having finished his home race did not prevent him from having a positive outlook on the team’s future as compared to others within the team. 

“The luck was not on my side [in Monaco] but that’s life, I will get over it and think about Baku,” said Leclerc. “I’m very, very motivated to be back in the car and have a very good result soon.”

“What I’ll try to remember from this weekend is all the positive signs we’ve had. We are coming back from quite far if we see last year, so we’ve done a good job to be improving race by race. Here it might be a one-off to be fighting for the win but it doesn’t mean there has been no progress, so we are on the good road, we are working well.”

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