The Ferrari F1-75 will be remembered as a car for Saturday afternoon. Fast, very fast when it comes to finding absolute performance in one lap, with the soft tires being used for a minute and a half. It is quite another thing to face a Grand Prix, three hundred kilometers covered (like yesterday in Austin) with three sets of tires.
The current season will be completed by the Maranello team with this consideration at point ‘1’ of the issues to be addressed, because in the 2022 Formula 1 world championship, the difference in the ability to manage tires was enormous.
There are Sundays when Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz literally struggled with the progressive loss of performance, while yesterday in Austin, Charles once again found himself dealing with the problem but not in the most extreme conditions as a few weeks ago.
Against Red Bull, however, it is enough to have a small problem to find yourself paying a heavy bill. On the other hand, the DNA of the RB18 is that of a perfect machine, which has top speed as its best weapons (crucial for attacking and defending itself) and, as mentioned, enviable tire management.
On this front, the Milton Keynes team is impeccable: not only does it manage to keep the tires in a constant temperature window, avoiding those overheating issue that are very fearsome in Austin, but it also manages to reach this operating temperature before the opponents, as is it was also clearly seen in Austin at the race restarts after the two safety car periods.
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With three races left of the 2022 Formula One season, the Scuderia fans know that there will be no miracles, at least not on the technical front. The situation is what it is, and will remain so until the checkered flag of Abu Dhabi, the last round of the current F1 campaign.
There is talk of ‘tests for 2023’, there seems to be a lot of ideas in Maranello on how to approach next year’s car, and with this in mind some good news has arrived from Austin: “Feelings are very, very mixed feelings – commented Laurent Mekies – losing Carlos like that after a few hundred meters was a bit of a shock, something you rarely see. It’s part of the game but it’s a shame, because today he would have had a great opportunity” – the Ferrari sporting director added.
“In terms of pace we are all quite close, so it would have been nice to be fighting with Carlos as well. On the other hand, Charles started twelfth and at one point in the race he fought for second position. His battle with Max was short but intense, we are probably still behind their performances if we talk about race pace, but I think Charles gave positive signs today” – Laurent Mekies continued.
The presence of the first safety car offered a great assist to Charles Leclerc and the Ferrari strategists, who were able to make a free pit stop. Charles then moved up to second position (thanks to a mistake made by Red Bull during Max Verstappen’s second stop, but the Dutchman quickly caught up and passed the Ferrari in four laps: “It is not the first race in which we see the Red Bull cars have a significant advantage in terms of top speed – clarified Laurent Mekies – we are forced to balance between what it takes to be fast in qualifying and the needs that await us in the race”.
“When we seized the moment with the safety car entering the track – explained Charles Leclerc (who returned second in the championship standings, ahead of the Mexico City Grand Prix next weekend) – I said to myself ‘maybe it’s a good day’, but subsequently we suffered a little too much from the degradation tires, and that’s what we need to avoid to get back to the top. We are improving, and we have seen it again today, but we have to complete all the steps needed to get back to the top ” – the Monegasque explained, at the end of the United States Grand Prix.
“I was quite confident in the possibility that I would get on the podium – concluded Charles Leclerc in Austin – but I have always been convinced that to win above all we need compactness. In retrospect, I think the communication strategy was correct, but as mentioned, something is still missing on the ‘tires’ front. However, I am happy to have seen that we are working in the right direction, and I am confident in the work that the team is carrying out.” – the Ferrari driver concluded.
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