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Ferrari to run testing-spec car in Austria ahead of big revamp

The Ferrari Formula 1 team will run the car it planned to race in Melbourne in the two races in Austria – but will introduce a major package of revisions for the third race of the year in Hungary.

Team principal Mattia Binotto said that after the lockdown break the team decided to take a major change of direction in order to find more performance from the SF1000, while knowing that the updates would not be ready for the first two races.

The short time available after the FIA factory shutdown, as well as new COVID-19 protocols that compromised the pace of work in Maranello, meant that changes could not be fast tracked through.

Binotto said it would have been “counterproductive” to pursue the original car concept that proved disappointing in testing.

“This weekend the car will run in the same configuration used towards the end of the Barcelona tests,” Binotto said in a team preview.

“This doesn’t mean we have been twiddling our thumbs in the very limited time of just five and a half weeks in which we were able to work on the cars, because of the stringent procedures involved in working around the pandemic as well as the total shutdown of activities required by the FIA in agreement with the teams.

“The truth is that the outcome of the tests led us to take a significant change of direction in terms of development, especially on the aerodynamic front.

“First, we had to understand why we did not see the results we had expected on track and how much to recalibrate the whole programme as a result. It would have been counterproductive to continue in the direction we had planned, knowing that we would not have reached our goals.

“Therefore we decided to come up with a new programme that looked at the whole car, knowing that not all of it would be ready for the first race. Our aim is to introduce the updates at the third race on 19 July at the Hungaroring.”

However, the team has not given up on the current package, and Binotto is confident that it understands it better than previously.

“Over and above the actual development of the car itself, these past few weeks we have worked a lot on analysing its behaviour, with simulation work and with the help of our drivers and I think that will prove its worth in Austria.

“We know that, at the moment, we don’t have the fastest package. We knew it before heading for Melbourne and that hasn’t changed.

“Having said that, the Spielberg circuit has different characteristics to Montmelo and the temperatures will be well above those of February.

“In Austria, we must try and make the most of every opportunity and then in Hungary, with the new development step we are working on, we will be able to see where we are really compared to the others, while having to take into account the developments our competitors themselves will have brought along.”

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Honda to run upgraded engine in Austrian GP

Red Bull’s hopes of taking the fight to Mercedes in Austria have been further boosted with Honda bringing an upgraded engine.

With the Formula 1 season having been called off before cars left the pitlane at the Australian Grand Prix, it means all teams are free to bring new car and engine packages to Austria.

Speaking in a team preview ahead of this weekend’s first round of the championship, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said that engine partner Honda would be bringing what was its original second version of the power unit to the Red Bull Ring.

“We have an engine upgrade, as we essentially introduce what would have been engine number two, which becomes our first engine,” he said.

“So in all aspects of the car there has been an awful lot of work go into [it], and it’s been a race against the clock to get those updates onto the car since reopening the factory at the beginning of June.”

Red Bull revealed some changes to its car during its Silverstone filming day last week, with Horner says the team is introducing parts that had been planned for the early phase of the campaign.

“We don’t really know where we stand going into Austria and of course the car would have been developed,” he explained.

“There would have been updates at the first European races at Zandvoort and Barcelona, and there would have been further updates for Montreal.

“So of course all the updates that were in the pipeline prior to the shutdown, plus whatever we’ve learned subsequent to the shutdown, have been implemented to the car.

“There are subtle revisions all over the car as part of that update process which I’m sure the other front running teams have also done.”

Horner also praised the ever-strengthening relationship with Honda, which he hopes can help it fight for the world championship this year.

“As we head into our second year of our Honda relationship it feels much more integrated within the team. We enjoyed a great debut season with Honda winning three races, and of course now we’re looking to build on that.

“They’re ambitious, they share the same ambitions that we do, they’ve been working tremendously hard during the off-season and of course come into this year with higher expectations.

“It’s a key part of the car and a key partner for us as we move forward and look to mount a challenge for championships in the future.”

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