Not every race can be a classic, but there was a sense of déjà vu in the final lap of the second race in Austria, helping bookend a Styrian Grand Prix that saw a dramatic opening.
Ferrari needed all the track time they could get after fast-tracking new parts originally scheduled for Hungary, because they then had the opportunity to carry out back-to-back comparisons on the same Red Bull Ring circuit. Given FP3 was cancelled and qualifying wet, the disappointing starting positions of 10th for Sebastian Vettel and 14th for Charles Leclerc – after a grid penalty – were less important than gaining data over a race distance in the dry.
So Turn Three on the first lap was an absolute disaster for the team.
“I put all the efforts of the team in the bin, so I’m very sorry. But it is not enough again.”
Bunched in the midfield, Leclerc dived to the inside to try and overtake a number of cars, but the man at the apex was his team-mate. Leclerc cut the corner, was launched off the inside kerb and climbed up over the sister Ferrari. Vettel’s rear wing was broken and his race was done, while Leclerc limped on for one more lap before the pack-up began.
“I was very surprised because I had the inside, and I was not expecting Charles to try something,” Vettel calmly said. “I don’t think there was any space, so obviously a big pity, something that we should avoid. But not much that I could have done differently. I was just taking it easy and conservative because it was already very busy. It is a hairpin, it is very tight, and just trying to place my car for the next straight, but by then I realised that I had quite some damage on the car.
“It is a shame. It was a bonus to come back here to the same track, and also today is very similar in term of conditions. But we will not get that answer [with the upgrades] I’m afraid. The car felt a lot better on Friday, and back to where it was last week up to the point where it went in the wrong direction. Yes it is a shame because also for the update we would really like to get the race on the line, and some laps to see where the car is. But unfortunately we will not get that answer.”
As Vettel and Leclerc met in the television pen, the pair spoke privately, and the man regarded as Ferrari’s future admitted the blame was all on him.
“Well, I apologised. Obviously excuses are not enough in times like this, I am just disappointed in myself. I have done a very bad job today. I let the team down.
“I can only be sorry, even though I know it is not enough. I hope I will learn from this and will come back stronger for the next races. But it is a tough time for the team. We don’t need that. The team doesn’t need that. And I put all the efforts of the team in the bin, so I’m very sorry. But it is not enough again.”