Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc shouldn’t be expecting any miracles at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. That’s the verdict of former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, who thinks Ferrari will be well off the pace of Mercedes and Red Bull at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Vettel arrives in Spain in the wake of a disappointing performance at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, where he struggled in practice, qualifying and the race itself.
The four-time F1 champion counted the cost of a spin on the first lap, as well as some questionable strategy calls from Ferrari, as he came home in 12th, eight places worse off than team-mate Leclerc.
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Schumacher, who is the younger brother of Ferrari legend Michael, says Mercedes will be the team to beat at this week’s race.
And he’s expecting Ferrari to encounter the same difficulties which have blighted their 2020 campaign so far.
“Mercedes will be very, very strong again in Barcelona,” Schumacher told Sky Sport in Germany. “I’m sure. Red Bull will be close, however.
“And Ferrari? I’m sorry! They’ll have even bigger problems in Barcelona than they did in Silverstone: this circuit doesn’t forgive mistakes. It is merciless there.”
Vettel’s dismal start to the season has left him down in 13th in the World Drivers’ Championship standings.
Schumacher believes his fellow German, whose Ferrari will have a new chassis this week, must adapt his driving style in order to get the best out of his car.
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“Since the power is lacking compared to last year, Ferrari has to compromise in order not to lose so much speed on the straights compared to the competition,” said Schumacher. “The Reds have to drive with less aerodynamics, which means that the rear is not as stable.
“Sebastian can’t handle that at all! Charles, on the other hand, finds it easier to deal with such adversities than Sebastian. There is a background to this: Leclerc belongs to a generation of racing drivers who are given a car in the junior series that they have to deal with. These standard cars have certain problems that a racing driver has to live with.
“It was different with me at the time, but also with Sebastian. And then in F1 everything is made possible. So when you’ve had a difficult year, you always try to adapt the car to your needs. But if it doesn’t work out, as in the case of Ferrari, you come to a dead end. And Sebastian is in that right now.
“He has a driving style. He’s had it for years. He doesn’t change that. That’s his character. Now the question is whether he is ready to change this approach, to get involved in something new. Even braking five metres earlier because the rear is just too nervous. Or he sticks to his point of view that the car has to adapt to him and not the other way around.”
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