The 2019 season in Formula One began in spectacular fashion in Melbourne last weekend as the giants of top-flight racing Mercedes and Ferrari resumed their rivalry for the highest honours.
Coming into the season opener at the Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari had an impressive winter testing which gave the Scuderia faithful the belief that they would be able to contest Mercedes toe-to-toe for the championship.
However, destiny had other plans as the Albert Park circuit proved particularly challenging to Ferrari, with their SF90 cars rarely matching the pace set during the off-season testing in Barcelona.
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc only managed to cross the finish line in fourth and fifth on Sunday, while winner Valtteri Bottas finished the race almost a minute ahead of them.
Nevertheless, team principal Mattia Binotto insists that their struggles at the Australian GP will not be representative of what Ferrari can achieve in the remainder of the season.
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The 49-year-old admitted that he himself was taken aback by the issues which hindered his team's progress throughout the weekend.
“It's not what we were expecting. Winter Testing was certainly different," said Binotto, according to Sky Sports.
“Since Friday P1, we never found the right balance on the car and we struggled with the tyres. We tried different set-up approaches during the weekend but we never concluded with the right balance.
“The performance [in the race] is simply reflecting what we had in qualy as well.”
Analysing the source of the problem is now the prime focus at the Italian headquarters before heading off to Bahrain in two-weeks' time.
“Do we understand that yet? Probably not, so we need to analyse the data and try to assess what really happened," the Swiss-Italian engineer added.
“One thing for certain is that this weekend is not the real potential of our car. We are pretty sure that the potential is certainly bigger.
“If we can identify what the issue was, we can be back even stronger.”
Sebastian Vettel further indicated that the performance Down Under is not what the car is truly capable of and has confidence they will find the ideal solution soon.
“I'm sure we will find something because we know the car is better than what we've seen. We know we have a lot more potential to unleash,” said the five-time world champion.
“In Barcelona we were very happy with the car from day one. The balance was right, the car was responding to what I was asking it to do, and I had a lot of confidence.
“All weekend I didn't get that confidence I had in Barcelona so I didn't have the car underneath to play around and it wasn't doing what I was asking. There were glimpses here and there that were really strong and our performance in some corners was really good.
“But in the majority of corners it wasn't and that's why we were slower than other people and lost out [in qualifying] as well as today.”
Only time will tell if the Italian outfit can recoup themselves and regain lost glory as reigning champions Mercedes enjoyed the perfect start to their season, with both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton finishing on the top tiers of the podium in Australia.News Now - Sport News