Ferrari can book the first five races as a success: three pole positions, two victories. Since the start of the season, Scuderia has been at the forefront of 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, Ferrari with the distinctive side pods has worked on all circuits. No matter what the weather was like. It does not matter which tire you drive. On a lap in qualifying and racing trim. After the Miami GP, team manager Mattia Binotto remembered her words before the start of the season. “I’ve always said we have to wait five races before we can make status.” The capo can do that now. Ferrari is competitive.
Trend pr. Red Bull
But the trend in the last two races speaks against the Maranello racing team and for Red Bull. “Maybe they were a few tenths faster than us,” Binotto admits. Various changes on the last test day in Bahrain and in the first races brought Red Bull forward. Although nothing new came to RB18 in Miami, the events in Imola repeated themselves. Max Verstappen passed Leclerc on the medium-sized tires on the track. This time in the main race and not in the sprint.
Monegasse was also a bit surprised by the pitch. “In practice, it was a disaster on the inner lane of the first turn. There was almost no grip there. So I did not expect Max to find so much grip there. I would stay on the clean race line and optimize my braking points. “It worked. I still could not stay in front.”
Ferrari only better in sector one
That Red Bull is several km / h faster in a straight line was nothing new. The team adapted RB18 in development accordingly. For the second time, Red Bull took better care of the tires, though Ferrari opted for a setup for more downforce. In theory, it should be better for the tires because the car slides less in the corners due to more downforce. Ferrari used only the larger rear wing in the race in the first part of the track with the fast turns. In the Mickey Mouse corners in the second half of the round, Red Bull suddenly came straight. In fact, slow turns are the territory of the F1-75.
“We won at Red Bull in curves 5, 6 and 7,” reports Binotto. “Not like last Saturday in the slow section. Red Bull were as fast as we were. We have to analyze that. It definitely has something to do with the upgrades they have 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 ride on the yellow Pirellis: “The car is so hard to drive.”
Ferrari needs to get up
The Ferrari drivers felt more comfortable on the hard tires. After the safety car, the Leclerc C2 mixture ignited faster and the Verstappen hung in the lumbar region. The faster warm-up process suggests that engineers adjusted their car a little more to qualify. Ferrari should definitely be ahead with its larger rear wing. Overtaking was not an easy task in Miami due to the smooth surface from the ideal line. Ferrari lacked 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: Red Bull overtook the Ferrari on its own, it could not 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 easily again. Which suggests that Red Bull also had a slight advantage on the hard tires. Sergio Perez would most likely have snatched third place from Carlos Sainz if the other Red Bull had not had their wings clipped on straights due to a sensor problem.
Ferrari knows that one has to improve technically to turn the development back to their advantage. “It’s up to us to step on the gas,” Binotto says. “In Barcelona we want an upgrade. It is very important that it works.” Not just to get back in front of Red Bull. But also for budgetary reasons. Under the budget ceiling, every failure is twice as costly.
Leclerc has confidence
At Red Bull, every new development has started. Ferrari has not yet proven that. And hope that an increase in downforce does not lead to more jumping, which would be detrimental to lap time. “We know Red Bull is developing strong. But I have faith in my team. With our new car we have shown how well we are developing and that we can catch up. I hope the upgrade will help us again to to get to the top, “says Leclerc.
Ferrari had deliberately held back for the first five races. Because you would first fully understand your car to push it out as much as possible. Because you would keep working towards jumping. And because one has to cope under the budget ceiling with an eye. “We do not 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 manager.
Larger packages are bundled in Maranello, which are only screwed on as soon as you are sure they will bring progress. Logic says Red Bull spent more of their development budget early in the season. “They can not continue like this. At some point, they will have to stop the development.”
New engine for reliability
Red Bull team manager Christian Horner can not disagree. “Under the budget ceiling, it’s hard to bring ongoing updates. Especially with rising inflation, which is brutal.” In addition, the high transport and freight costs, which push the wallet. Horner is convinced that Ferrari will be strong in Barcelona. “They can shine in the high-speed corners.” Revolutions 3 and 9 are meant.
Both red cars already have the second engine of the season. Ferrari was allowed to change the V6 turbo due to a reliability issue. The first drives will not have to complete their work until Friday. Ferrari only installs the new hybrid system with the third engine in the car.