Sebastian Vettel: Ferrari keen to understand Belgian GP struggles
Vettel only fourth in Belgium and out-qualified by Leclerc for sixth time in a row; Ferrari bidding for home win at Monza this weekend
By James Galloway at Spa-Francorchamps
Last Updated: 02/09/19 2:33pm
Ferrari will look into the problems Sebastian Vettel experienced at the Belgian GP as they bid to get the four-time world champion back on form for their home Italian GP at Monza.
Vettel proved no match for Charles Leclerc at Spa, qualifying 0.7s behind his on-song team-mate and then being beaten by both Mercedes drivers in the race as high tyre wear forced him into a two-stop strategy.
While Leclerc has now registered Ferrari's first win of 2019, four-time world champion Vettel's victory drought has stretched beyond a full year.
"We have to understand why my car had such high tyre degradation and we will do a full analysis of the situation to understand the reasons why I did not feel comfortable," said Vettel on Sunday evening.
"It was definitely not a great weekend for me, but it was a great weekend for the team and that's the main thing."
Leclerc's competitive edge over Vettel has recently become a trend, particularly in qualifying - where the 21-year-old has now out-qualified the four-time world champion for six consecutive events.
For a driver who normally is kind on his tyres over the longer race distance, Ferrari are keen to understand why Vettel's SF90 was relatively off the pace on Sunday.
"Certainly Sebastian struggled in the race with tyre degradation," said team boss Mattia Binotto.
"Seb is normally good at managing tyres over the first laps [of a stint].
"So it's something we will take care of to understand and analyse."
In order to guard against an undercut by Mercedes in the first stint, Ferrari pitted Vettel first. With the advantage of fresh tyres, Vettel was able to run faster and leapfrog Leclerc mid-way through the race when the 21-year-old eventually pitted from the lead himself.
But Vettel was then told to let his team-mate back through as Leclerc quickly closed back up.
"I couldn't hold him off for a very long time. I was struggling in the corner which allowed him to get close, and all I could try to do was give Charles a cushion," said Vettel, who crucially then held Hamilton up for several laps.
"In the end it was just enough so I did the job."