Leclerc predicts 'very challenging' 2020 for Ferrari, but Vettel isn't giving up yet

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Charles Leclerc's outlook was as gloomy as the rain clouds hovering over the Red Bull Ring as he predicted a "very challenging" 2020 for Ferrari.

The Italian team has been surprisingly honest about their problems with the SF1000, which was billed as the most extreme Formula 1 car ever to have emerged from Maranello.

Instead, Ferrari barely registered a good time in testing and now team boss Mattia Binotto has confirmed the team is having to change course with its development due to the car's flaws.

“I think it’s going to be a very challenging season for us, it’s definitely not going to be easy," Leclerc stated in Thursday's press conference ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

“We still have this question mark and we still need to wait for qualifying to be absolutely sure of what we say, even though we are 99% sure that we’ll be struggling more than last year.”

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Teammate Sebastian Vettel then shed a little more light on the situation Ferrari have been facing both on and off the track.

"I think after the testing, we more or less knew that we were not where we wanted to be, especially on the qualifying pace," he said. "Then there's been this whole situation with coronavirus, everything was closed.

"Once they reopened, we re-analysed the data with the small amount of time we had, and I think we decided to make a step back to try and analyse from where the issue is coming from first, to then work on the issues.

"That's where we are at the moment. We have tried a different route for Budapest."

This delayed upgrade though could well end Ferrari's championship aspirations before they've even started this season, as every race is expected to be crucial.

Even so, damage limitation will still be the goal as the Scuderia hope the new parts can see them join the anticipated battle between Mercedes and Red Bull at the front.

“At this stage also it’s unknown how long this season will be, I think we have eight races scheduled. Whether we will have these eight races, whether there will be more, how many more," Vettel said.

“So a lot of things that are unknown. No matter, we try to do our best and get everything on the car as soon as we can, which has always been the case.

“We didn’t make it in time for here but Hungary is only two weeks away. So I think it would be too soon to write everything off.”