Ferrari-Red Bull: in Imola the devil was in the details – Federico Albano

Victory dominant from the RedBull, painful defeat for Ferrarithis is, without a doubt the verdict of the Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna and of Made in Italy, aka the race of Imola. A weekend that seemed like it could be one on the eve consecration for the red and instead brought back the Maranello team and its fans with down to earth. The F1-75 continues to be a title machinebut the Imola weekend made it clear that in any case to excel you need to do a I also work on the track better than that of the opponents.

RedBull showed up with a car on which a few pounds were saved and then with a mass distribution slightly improved, which produced, together aerodynamic triman extremely balanced overall balanced immediately. The hard lesson from Melbourne set the way and some focused updates supported Horner’s team, which put a car on the track capable of make the tires work wellwith a more shifted balance evidently towards the front compared to the first races, thus managing to properly protect the front end.

The boundary conditions they gave a further contribution: the low temperatures environmental they got married with the needs of thermal control of the roofs who inherently has Newey’s car, and the sum of all the elements he has placed in Verstappen’s hands the best car of the lot on the Santerno route. As we have already said several times, we would like to reiterate that the talent of the Dutchman it should not be taken for granted and one cannot fail to notice, at least looking from the outside, how the reigning World Champion runs with an attitude much more serene compared to last season.

The rivalry with Leclerc, coupled with the mutual respect between the two, is for now producing a duel from anthology although the two do not spare themselves on the track, but without ever leading to any incorrectness. It was also noticed in the post sprint race statements, where the Dutchman, speaking of overtaking him on the Monegasque rival, said that he was left. the correct space and that he did not expect nothing different, given how correct the battles with Leclerc had already been in the first races. We do not know how long this pseudo-idyll between the two will last, before some track situation begins to create tension, but for the moment the two are giving an excellent sport demonstration.

Coming to the red, things went well diametrically opposite compared to what was told on RedBull. The F1-75 does not find in such low ambient temperatures the best condition to express itself, and the graining that Leclerc continued to develop at the front, especially during Sunday’s race, seems to be due to a struggling to warm up the tires as necessary. The impression is also that in Maranello we have opted for a balance more shifted towards the rear to improve traction in dry weather. This from the point of view of better defend yourself from the top speeds of RedBull on the long straight box. Furthermore, this choice can also be the result of the search for a car a little more stable and easier to manage in case of rain. All this, however, was brought to the track practically blindly given that the only free practice session was run under the flood and then, with the start of the Parc Fermé regime, there was no longer any way to make radical corrections to the set-up of Sainz and Leclerc’s cars. The result was an F1-75 2-3 tenths slower than the Red Bull duo, to which the various unfavorable race situations were added, such as the bad start of Leclerc and the long pit stop of the mechanics who prevented the Monegasque to put himself in front of Perez with a safety margin. A pity especially this last point, because it would have been extremely interesting to understand if Leclerc would have been able to keep the second position or he would have suffered the attack of the Mexican anyway once he was firmly positioned in front. The error of the Monegasque then is the photograph of those who want to drive beyond the capabilities of the car. He had recently told Leclerc who he was glad I don’t have to do it anymore with the F1-75, but it was immediately denied by itself. Not a drama, but definitely something to learn from. It is also the personal belief of the writer that if the race was not the home one, with the red grandstands he Ferrari top executives in the pits, Leclerc would have dropped the blow more easily, contenting himself with third place. Overall the sixth place of the Monegasque one can also think with the first two positions lost due to a car not performing enough and the last three due to his mistake. In general, the strategy of trying another pit stop at the end made sense, not so much for the fastest lap but to try to move a now blocked ranking, so much so that for safety Red Bull had to respond with both cars. The problem of graining on the front, however, was evidently the most limiting for Leclec, who even complained that he had mounted the soft tire despite only a little more than 10 laps missing at the end. On the race of Sainz instead there is very little to say, if not shame about bad luck to remain in the gravel and why it was not possible to evaluate the new Power Unit in the race. We will shortly try to retrace the Sprint Race data to understand if you notice a improvement on the power front for with the second drive unit brought to the track by car number 55.
In conclusion, the Imola weekend demonstrates one aspect particularly stimulating for the fight against the world championship: with the step made by RedBull the performance of the Austrians and Ferrari have come closer together, and the track work of pilots and engineers can change the fate of a weekend beyond the basic characteristics of the cars.

Behind the two top teams we find a revenant McLaren which confirms Melbourne’s performance even on dry roads with the ever-present Norris. Although far from the top, the Woking team even found a podium after a start that seemed disastrous thanks to an important fine-tuning work, which confirms how sensitive these cars are to set-up variations. Instead, the dark Mercedesilluminated only by the Russell star, author of a magnificent race. In Imola in all probability the Brackley team has greeted the hopes for the 2022 title. In fact, Russell’s performance is almost entirely the result of the driver’s ability, and very little of the car. Russell also had to resist the return of Bottas hard and looking at the graph of relative gaps along the race you notice how the pace of Bottas was even potentially from the podium if he hadn’t had the problem in the pits with the very long pit stop.

From the point of view of performance at this point the wait is all for Barcelonawhere all the teams will lead (as announced by Binotto himself) important packages update on the car. Who will come out winning and convincing from the Catalan circuit he will have an important slice of the world championship in his pocket. With this in mind, the next race on the Miami’s bizarre track it almost represents a psychological hindrance. The very fast track with very long straights will force the teams to bring low load packages for the last race on the so-called “A versions” of the cars, and to find some solution for porpoising that on such a track it could turn out deadly even physically for the pilots. The season, however, continues not to betray expectations and indeed to prove to be race after race of primary interest.

FP | Federico Albano

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