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2019 F1

Italian press blasts weak Vettel

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Mattia Binotto says Ferrari is not panicking after a bad start to the 2019 season.

The entire paddock was stunned in Melbourne to discover that, after the Maranello team’s dominance of winter testing, Mercedes and also Red Bull-Honda were faster at the first race.

“We need to analyse what happened here in peace at the factory,” new team boss Binotto said.

“I remain convinced that we have a good car. We haven’t seen our true potential on a race weekend yet,” he added.

The pressure is also mounting on the shoulders of ‘number 1’ Sebastian Vettel. Binotto confirmed that only a team order meant Charles Leclerc didn’t pass him for fourth position.

“At that time we did not want to jeopardise the result we had. For us it made no sense for Charles to attack him,” he said.

At one point, Vettel even asked his engineer on the radio: “Why are we so slow?”

La Gazzetta dello Sport said it was a “weak” performance by Vettel.

“Leclerc seems to have more energy and openly admits that he was told to stay behind in the final stages of the race,” said the Italian sports daily.

But boss Binotto insists he is staying calm.

“This weekend was unexpected. We thought we could improve the balance over the weekend, but it didn’t happen. Today I have no answer.

“But we stay calm because we believe in the potential of this car. We think this was an outlier that hopefully will not be repeated. Maybe it’s a good lesson for us,” he said.

Vettel is also confident Ferrari is still in the fight with Mercedes and Red Bull-Honda for the world championship.

“It was one race,” said the German. “Mercedes is very strong and the rest are far behind, but it’s a long year,” he said.

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