Ferrari’s worst fears were realised on Saturday when they failed to qualify even one car in the top ten on home soil for the Italian Grand Prix for the first time since 1984.
In a dismal showing by their own historic standards and high expectations, Charles Leclerc, who won last year’s race from pole position, qualified 13th and departing four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was 17th.
Vettel’s Q1 exit represented another low for the team as he became the first Ferrari driver to start an Italian Grand Prix outside the top 15 since 1966, when Giancarlo Baghetti qualified 16th.
After their pointless flop at the Belgian Grand Prix last Sunday, this was another embarrassment for the ‘scarlet scuderia’, but little surprise to their drivers.
“At the end, we expected it a little bit coming into this weekend,” said Leclerc. “We know that Spa, and here, are probably the two worst tracks for us with another one probably a bit later in the year.
“It’s like this – it’s tough because once you do a good lap and you do P13, it doesn’t feel good, but for now it’s like this and I need to extract the maximum out of the car in the situation we are in and that’s what I try to do.”
The Monegasque driver said he hoped for some improvement ahead of next weekend’s Tuscany Grand Prix where Ferrari celebrate their 1,000th F1 championship race entry.
“Surely, it hurts even more once it’s at home,” said Leclerc. “It’s a reality at the moment for us unfortunately. We need to work and hopefully for Mugello, which is still home for Ferrari, we’ll be a bit better.
“I hope that from the next race onwards we’ll see a light at the end of the tunnel, because that’s two very tough weekends for us. We need to keep our heads down, stay motivated and better days will be coming.”