HOCKENHEIM: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Ferrari needed to sort out their problems for the sake of Formula One after the Italians suffered double disappointment in German Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.
Ferrari had dominated free practice and had looked favourites to take pole position at Hockenheim when both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were sidelined by power unit issues.
Vettel, on pole last year, failed to complete even a timed lap and needed the permission of stewards to start Sunday’s race in last place.
Leclerc made it through to the final phase before a fuel system problem kept him in the garage and left him lining up 10th on a dire afternoon for the Maranello-based team.
“Ferrari, they really have an illness in there that they need to cure,” Wolff told Sky Sports television before later clarifying to reporters that he had meant to say “problems.”
“It’s a shame because we need them for a strong championship,” added the Austrian, whose team have won nine of 10 races so far.
Saturday’s failure was all the more acute for Formula One’s most succesful and glamorous team just as they had hoped to turn a corner and get the better of Mercedes.
Sunday had offered Vettel the chance of making up for the mistake that saw him crash out of the lead last year, handing victory to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton — who will be on pole this time.
“I don’t know what happened, something broke with the turbo and that was game over from there,” the home favourite told reporters.
“Obviously very bitter, I think the car was great and I lost out on a big chance but hopefully we’ll have a big one coming tomorrow,” added the German.
Leclerc had hoped for his third pole of the season and second in two races but he never got the chance to fight for it.
“I felt great in the car and the car felt great today and all weekend so it’s a shame it ends up like this,” said the Monegasque who had been quickest in the first phase of qualifying.
“It’s a difficult day for the team, I hope it will be a very positive day tomorrow,” added the 21-year-old.
Ferrari last won a drivers’ championship with Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 while their last constructors’ title triumph came in 2008.
Raikkonen, now at Alfa Romeo, was, ironically, the quickest Ferrari-powered driver in qualifying with fifth place.
Saturday’s problems once again turned the spotlight on Ferrari’s failure to make the most of their opportunities and team boss Mattia Binotto said that hurt.
“We are angry with ourselves and I myself feel responsible for what has happened,” he said.
“But I am also aware that we must react calmly and do our best tomorrow.”
Binotto said Saturday had thrown up “two completely different problems, neither of which had ever occurred before.
“The first indications from Sebastian’s car lead us to believe it could be related to a component on the intercooler,” he added. “The component is to the same specification as those used previously and it was fitted new.”