The Ferrari Formula 1 team is hoping “much hotter” temperatures on race day will aid its performance during the Austrian Grand Prix after a lacklustre qualifying.

Warmer conditions are forecast for Sunday, with predicted temperatures expected to reach 30 degrees at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, and Ferrari is hopeful the change in conditions will play to its advantage.

The Scuderia endured a nightmare qualifying session in Austria that saw Sebastian Vettel eliminated in Q2, while teammate Charles Leclerc only just snuck into Q3 before going on to seal a lowly seventh on the grid.

Ferrari has brought a Melbourne-spec SF1000 car to Austria and expected to struggle compared to rivals Mercedes and Red Bull until its redesigned package arrives in time for the Hungarian Grand Prix later this month.

“It’s much hotter again tomorrow,” Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies said. “And it will change a little bit the pecking order. It won’t be a revolution, but things will change.

“On top of that, the field is very tight. So I’m not talking about the Mercedes, of course, but certainly behind them the field is very tight.

“It’s going to be a big fight and we know Charles and Seb are very good at that, and therefore try to give them the best weapon to be able to fight in these conditions.”

Mercedes has dominated the weekend so far after locking out the front row of the grid, with Leclerc nearly a full second off the pace of polesitter Valtteri Bottas in Q3.

“Unfortunately this is where we are at the moment, so we need to work and start building a better car for the future,” Leclerc explained.

“It’s the race that we can score points, for sure we’re not expecting miracles, they won’t come but we’ll do the best we can with what we have and continue to work the best we can for the coming races.

“For sure there’s the possibility to do better than qualifying but, the Mercedes are out of our reach.

“We’ll give it our all, as drivers and as a team, and we’ll try to get as far up the order as possible.”

Four-times world champion Vettel will start 11th on the grid but is confident that Ferrari’s race pace is much better than its current one-lap potential.

“It's a long race,” he said. “I think in race trim we are always better. I think we will be there to make up some good ground and score some good points.”

Mercedes has struggled with cooling-related issues in Austria in recent years which has influenced its performance in the past, and the team remains wary that warmer conditions could bring potential problems.

A switch to an all-black livery may exaggerate any cooling dilemnas for Mercedes, which traditionally runs a silver colour scheme.

“The messaging and the marketing is very important,” Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff replied when asked if the team is concerned about its livery change. “If performance is being harmed, that’s obviously not great.

“We have made some calculations, but tomorrow when the weather is expected to be around 30 degrees.

“We will see whether our simulations with a silver car have been different to the results on track with a black car. So [it’s a] fair point. It’s a little bit of an unknown to us.”

There is the additional factor of Max Verstappen starting the race on the Medium tyres to consider, after Red Bull opted to run the harder compound during the second part of qualifying.

This could open the door for a potential strategic advantage for Red Bull, which is expecting to be stronger in race-trim after finishing half a second down on the Mercedes duo in qualifying.

“If you look at Friday’s longer runs in cool conditions the C4 tyre I think for everybody exhibited a reasonable amount of drop-off or degradation,” Red Bull’s head of car engineering Paul Monaghan said after qualifying. “And the yellow wall [medium] tyre looks to stand up a little bit better.

“Now if the forecast is correct and tomorrow’s even warmer than today, which again will make it we think a bit harder for the C4 to survive. So we’ve opted to try and give ourselves a better tyre for the first and make our selections from there.”

 

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