Mattia Binotto backed Sebastian Vettel to respond next week at the Red Bull Ring after a dismal display in a testing weekend for Ferrari at Formula One’s season opener in Austria.
In the first of two consecutive events in Spielberg as the 2020 campaign belatedly gets underway amid the coronavirus pandemic, Vettel – who will leave the Scuderia at the end of the year – finished 10th.
The German attempted to dive down the inside of Carlos Sainz, his Ferrari replacement, and was left in a spin, with only debutant Nicholas Latifi trailing him across the line.
Team-mate Charles Leclerc came second, profiting from Lewis Hamilton's five-second penalty, but team principal Binotto was still not happy with the overall performance after they qualified in seventh and 11th on Saturday.
"We weren't expecting [Leclerc's podium] at all," Binotto told Sky Sports. "Certainly, we can be happy with the podium but still it's very disappointing for our performance."
Leclerc said his team had been "perfect" on Sunday, but Binotto acknowledged Vettel's issues.
He explained: "It has not been his greatest race today. I think he was uncomfortable with the car, the balance of the car. He sensed that the car was not as driveable as it was on Friday.
"When the driver is in such a condition, he cannot deliver his best. The spin and the contact was certainly not a great action from his side. I think he was cautious a bit.
"It's a shame because today could have been important to score points, especially when maybe our direct competitors are not scoring many points.
"It's really a shame, but now we need to understand why the car was not behaving. We hope that next week he can show how good he is."
Vettel told Ferrari over the team radio his car was "undriveable", meaning he was ultimately just relieved to come through the race relatively unscathed.
"To be honest, I'm happy that I span only once," said Vettel. "It was very difficult.
"It got very tight and Carlos turned in and I was just on the edge because I wanted to be as close as possible and lost the rear. But to be honest, I lost the rear a couple of times today, so I'm happy that it only happened once.
"We don't know [what was wrong] – we need to have a good look – but, for sure, the car was very difficult today.
"I tried my best, and obviously the safety car helped us. It was quite entertaining in the end but obviously not the result I want."