MONTREAL (Reuters) – Ferrari are confident their turbo upgrade will provide a much-needed boost in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix after working well in practice, track operations head Jock Clear said.
Speaking after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was second on the timesheets at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Friday, Clear said the update was working as expected.
“We try and bring a development to the car as soon as possible and accelerating that development, bringing those things to the track as fast as possible, has some risk involved,” the former Mercedes engineer told reporters.
Clear said rushing the upgrade out for Monaco two weeks ago would have been of dubious benefit and Ferrari would have lost two weeks of development.
“We’ve brought it here as a strategic decision: this is the kind of circuit where it is going to benefit us and … we’re seeing that today in our data. So we’re happy,” added the Briton.
Monaco was the first race of the season without a Ferrari driver on the podium, with Red Bull the closest challengers to Mercedes in the last two grands prix.
Vettel split the Mercedes of triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, who dominated both of Friday’s practice sessions, and championship leader Nico Rosberg with a time set on the fastest ultrasoft tyres.
His Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen was only eighth quickest, however.
The two cars ran with different configurations and fuel loads, Ferrari said.
The two drivers sounded at odds later, with Vettel saying the car felt ‘OK’ if quite nervous on the bumpy circuit while Raikkonen said it had not been an easy day.
Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, said it was “one of those days when you keep making changes and nothing seems to work exactly as you hoped.
“We struggled to make the car handling better but we did not manage to do it,” he added.
Ferrari have not won in Montreal, at a circuit named after their late Canadian great, since Michael Schumacher in 2004. Vettel won there with Red Bull in 2013.
Hamilton said he was impressed by the improved Ferrari pace.
“The Ferraris look very quick,” he told reporters. “They’ve got a new turbo so they’ve picked up their pace on the straights.”
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Peter Rutherford)