Mattia Binotto admits that Ferrari did not understand why their strong pre-season performance deserted them at the Australian Grand Prix. The Scuderia failed to make good on their billing as favourites as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc came home fourth and fifth respectively.
Ferrari looked the team to beat in Barcelona, but it flipped to a familiar story in Melbourne, as Mercedes dominated the weekend – Valtteri Bottas leading Lewis Hamilton in a one-two finish after the Brit had taken pole position some seven tenths clear of Vettel in third.
The red cars' struggles prompted a risk-averse strategy call, which saw Leclerc called off from an attack on Vettel and denied a pit-stop for fresh tyres which could have seen him take the fastest lap bonus point, which Bottas added to his winning points haul.
Binotto's bafflement at what went wrong for Ferrari chimes somewhat with Mercedes' claims that their advantage was similarly surprising.
"It's not what we were expecting," Binotto said. "Winter testing was certainly different.
"Since Friday FP1 we never found the right balance on the car and we struggled with the tyres.
"We tried different set-up approaches during the weekend but I have to say we never concluded with the right balance. [We were] unhappy in qualifying, and when you're in parc ferme that's what you've got.
"The performance is simply reflecting what we had in qualifying as well.
"We didn't find the right balance. We were lacking grip. Did we understand that yet? Probably not.
"It's something we need to go back, analyse all the data and try to assess what happened."