Ferrari Formula 1 team sporting director Laurent Mekies says that Charles Leclerc’s qualifying performance at the Nurburgring shows that the Maranello outfit is recovering after hitting “rock bottom.”
Leclerc impressed by qualifying fourth for the Eifel GP, having been in the top six in all three sessions. His teammate Sebastian Vettel again missed out on Q3, and will start 11th.
Ferrari hit a low at high-speed venues Spa and Monza, with Leclerc its best-placed driver in 13th on both occasions.
Mekies said that Leclerc’s Nurburgring performance is important because it indicates that the team is on the right track in terms of development.
“Charles did a very good job, but I think overall, it’s a good day for the team,” said Mekies. “We are coming from very tough weeks and months. Therefore it’s a good encouragement towards our efforts to find back a good direction of development.
“Not so much for today, it doesn’t matter that much for today, but at least for the directions for the future and for next year. So it’s a good sign in that direction.”
Mekies indicated that recent upgrades, including new parts introduced in Germany, played a role.
“I think there are very many factors,” he said. “I don’t think we need to get too excited about it, but I think the first part hopefully is that we’ve got a couple of small upgrades both in Sochi and here, and as I say, hopefully we have hit rock bottom a few weeks ago now and we are trying to reconstruct towards the resolutions of our issues.
“It’s a long path. I’m sure it will be up and down but I think today is the first step in that direction after Sochi and hopefully the car will have a bit more performance. Then, of course Charles did a very, very good qualifying. Very sharp straightaway. He extracted everything that could be extracted.
“And then lastly, we cannot forget that it’s a very specific weekend with no running on Friday, it’s always going to be a bit changing the order, for good or for bad. So I think it’s a combination of the three things, if I’m honest.”
Mekies said one key factor was getting the tyres to work well in the cold conditions.
“Before coming here we were certainly very concerned about getting the tyres working in these types of conditions. Probably the only time this season. At least the only time so far that we get into that window, so we were very quite concerned in trying to do everything we can on the car to get things to work.
“Even if I forget about the competition, it proved to be reasonable for us for the condition in terms of how they were working. I don’t know how much our competitors suffered or not.
“So I’d like to think that it was simply a lean and a sharp Saturday, and that the upgrades gave us these extra tenths or so advantage that can make a difference in such a tight pack.
“You are two-tenths ahead and you are P4 and you are in a good shape, you are three tenths behind and you are suddenly out of Q3. So I think we need to stay realistic about that.”
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