Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has credited his team’s work ethic after a problematic Friday practice for delivering the Scuderia’s second win of the season.
Chassis and engine issues plagued Ferrari’s start to the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend — Sebastian Vettel missing most of free practice on with both internal combustion engine and ERS problems, while Kimi Räikkönen’s front wing spontaneously collapsed before his car developed a water leak that left his running similarly constricted.
The team retired for the day, with Sebastian Vettel saying it had “lots to clean up”, but Arrivabene said it was from that point that his team started to shine.
“On Friday, we were struggling a lot,” he said. “At one stage James Allison [Ferrari’s technical director] said to me, ‘Look, if I have to think about the worst day, today is the worst of my career’.
“But we put everything together — we worked with determination — and this tells you what we think about this team that is getting together better.”
Ferrari expected to be closer to Mercedes around the Hungaroring because engine performance, which has been one of the most significant differentiators in pace this season, has the least effect on overall performance here.
Arrivabene said sticking to the plan, rather than panicking at the loss of track time, was key to the turnaround.
“The difference was knowing that here we had our data that it could be a good race. We were not thinking of winning the race, but at least of fighting the race.
Then everything happened on Friday, so Saturday the first thought was to calm down because we need to do our analysis to put everything together.
“The engineers started to give straightforward indications and we had to take the reality as it was.
“We had FP3 to work on the car. We were testing certain solutions, and in the end we had good pace during the race.”
Naturally, Arrivabene had one disappointment from the grand prix, being the team’s inability to secure tis first one-two finish in five years.
For most of the race the feat seemed achievable. Both Vettel and Räikkönen were easing away from the rest of the field, until Räikkönen’s car developed an ERS-K problem that robbed him of power just before the safety car period.
The team was unable to cure the problem, which meant the Finn was easy picking for Rosberg and Ricciardo at the restart, before eventually having his car retired.
“I’m really disappointed because, to be honest, Kimi was really good today,” he said. “But this is Formula One, these things happen. Sometimes you win because the other team is scoring an own goal instead of you, but it’s part of the game, so we have to accept this.
“Again, congratulations to Kimi for what he was doing today. Unfortunately something happened and we didn’t have the double, but I think it’s a good occasion to think of in the future.”
Arrivabene is now 10 races into his tenure at the helm of Formula One’s most famous team, and despite being handed the unenviable task of leading the Scuderia from one of the darkest times of its modern era, has produced two wins against the otherwise ultra-dominant Mercedes team.
The pair of victories were far apart, however, and in the meanwhile Williams, which was one of Mercedes’ closest challengers last season, appeared to regain its edge over the red cars.
Though the pressure experienced by Ferrari team principals is the stuff of legend, Arrivabene insisted that he was focussed only on keeping the ship steady on its present course.
“You see my shoulders here are very large — I don’t feel a lot of pressure,” quipped the Italian.
“I’ve said since the beginning our objective was to win two races. It’s not a question of pressure.
“Here’s the story of the championship: more or less all the teams are doing the same. The Mercedes car is strong everywhere, but I said two races ago that we are expecting to have good races and bad races during the course of this season — that doesn’t mean that we’re stepping back.
“We need to do our job. In general I have to say that the direction we have taken is good. We have nine races to go; during these nine races we will see races hopefully like this one and other races like Silverstone or Spain.
“We know that it’s more or less like this. Even the best team sometimes has a failure, and then they go up again. It doesn’t mean they’re stepping back.”