Ferrari can book the first five races as a success: three pole positions, two wins. Since the start of the season, the Scuderia has been ahead in both world championships. After the Miami GP, Charles Leclerc has 104 points. His first pursuer, Max Verstappen, is 19 points behind. In the team world championship, Ferrari has the long nose tip of the F1-75 ahead with 157 to 151.
Until now, the Ferrari with the characteristic sidepods has worked on all circuits. No matter what the weather was like. It doesn’t matter what tires you’re driving. On a lap in qualifying and race trim. After the Miami GP, team boss Mattia Binotto recalled his words before the start of the season. “I’ve always said we have to wait five races before we can take stock.” The capo can do that now. Ferrari is competitive.
Trend per Red Bull
But the trend of the last two races speaks against the Maranello racing team and for Red Bull. “Maybe they were a few tenths faster than us,” admits Binotto. Various modifications on the last day of testing in Bahrain and in the first races brought Red Bull forward. While nothing new came to the RB18 in Miami, the events of Imola repeated themselves. Max Verstappen passed Leclerc on the medium tires on the circuit. This time in the main race and not in the sprint.
The Monegasse was also a bit surprised by the track. “In practice it was a disaster on the inside lane of the first corner. There was hardly any grip there. So I didn’t expect Max to find so much grip there. I wanted to stay on the clean racing line and optimize my braking point. It worked . I still couldn’t stay in front.”
Ferrari only better in sector one
The fact that the Red Bull is several km/h faster in a straight line was nothing new. The team aligned the RB18 in development accordingly. For the second time, the Red Bull took better care of the tires, although Ferrari chose a setup for more downforce. In theory, that should be better for the tires because the car slips less in the corners due to more downforce. Ferrari only used the larger rear wing in the race in the first section of the track with the fast corners. In the Mickey Mouse corners in the second part of the round, the Red Bull suddenly came level. Actually, slow corners are the territory of the F1-75.
“We won on Red Bull in curves 5, 6 and 7,” reports Binotto. “Not like on Saturday in the slow section. Red Bull was as fast as we were. We have to analyze that. Surely it has something to do with the upgrades they’ve brought in the last few weeks.” It could also be that the tires, especially the medium ones, overheated a bit on the Ferrari in the slow sections. Leclerc reported at the end of the first stint on the yellow Pirellis: “The car is so difficult to drive.”
Ferrari has to step up
The Ferrari drivers felt more comfortable on the hard tyres. After the safety car, Leclerc ignited the C2 mixture faster and hung Verstappen in the lower back. The quicker warm-up process suggests that the engineers adjusted their car a bit more for qualifying. Ferrari absolutely had to be in the front with its larger rear wing. Overtaking was not an easy task in Miami because of the slippery surface off the ideal line. Ferrari lacked the top speed. Verstappen was able to defend himself successfully, although Leclerc was able to open the wing behind him.
Let’s put it this way: The Red Bull overtook the Ferrari under its own power, it couldn’t be done the other way around. Which is also a statement about the current balance of power in Formula 1. Verstappen managed to break the DRS and pull away again easily. Which suggests that Red Bull also had a slight advantage on the hard tires. Sergio Perez would very likely have snatched third place from Carlos Sainz if the second Red Bull hadn’t had his wings clipped on the straights due to a sensor problem.
Ferrari knows that you have to improve technically to turn the tide back in their favor. “It’s up to us to step on the gas,” says Binotto. “In Barcelona we will have an upgrade. It is very important that it works.” Not just to get back in front of Red Bull. But also for budget reasons. Under the budget cap, every failure is doubly expensive.
Leclerc has confidence
At Red Bull, every new development has hit the ground running. Ferrari has yet to prove that. And hope that an increase in downforce does not lead to more bouncing, which would be detrimental to the lap time. “We know that Red Bull is developing strongly. But I have faith in my team. With our new car we have shown how well we develop ourselves and that we can catch up. I hope the upgrade will help us again to go to the top,” says Leclerc.
Ferrari had deliberately held back in the first five races. Because you first wanted to fully understand your car in order to squeeze it out as much as possible. Because you wanted to continue working against bouncing. And because you have to manage under the budget cap with an eye. “We don’t even have the money to bring an upgrade every weekend. Our development is aimed at bringing new parts at the right time,” says the team boss.
Larger packages are bundled in Maranello, which are only screwed on as soon as you are sure that they will bring progress. Logic says that Red Bull used up more of their development budget early in the season. “They can’t continue like this. At some point they will have to stop development.”
New engine for reliability
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner cannot disagree. “Below the budget cap, it’s hard to bring continuous updates. Especially with rising inflation, which is brutal.” Added to this are the high transport and freight costs, which put pressure on the wallet. Horner firmly believes that Ferrari will be strong in Barcelona. “They can shine in the high-speed corners.” Turns 3 and 9 are meant.
Both red cars already have the second engine of the season. Ferrari was allowed to modify the V6 turbo because of a reliability issue. The first drive units should only do their job on Friday. Ferrari only installs the new hybrid system with the third engine in the car.
#Ferrari #falls #Binotto #hopes #budget #jokers