Scuderia Ferrari it looking for answers to find out why the low-speed advantage it has had in the first four rounds of the 2022 Formula One season disappeared in the last round of the championship, the Miami Grand Prix.
From the first pre-season testing session in Barcelona, it was clear that the characteristics and set-up of the strengths of Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull 2022 F1 challengers were completely different and this was confirmed during the races in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Italy.
Red Bull decided to go for a lower downforce/drag configuration for its RB18, that has given it an advantage with top speeds and in flat-out corners. On the other hand, the Ferrari F1-75 car has run with more downforce and drag, with the benefits of being faster in low/medium speed corners, as well as under acceleration and in traction zones.
Yet the situation changed at the Miami International Autodrome last weekend, as the Maranello team realized it could not capitalize on its strengths and was outpaced by Red Bull in Miami. A detailed analysis of the telemetry data revealed that the Red Bull was very fast through and on the way out of the tight chicane sequence near the end of the Miami lap, which helped Max Verstappen in the final stages of the race, as the Dutchman was able to gain an advantage over Charles Leclerc despite the fact that the Monegasque driver could use the DRS on the following straight.
Scuderia Ferrari confirmed that it did not have an answer as to why things were different at the temporary circuit around Hard Rock Stadium, mainly because the Austrian team was still able to mentain its straightline speed edge.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto explained: “We are running a bit more downforce in terms of wing configurations: lacking speed on the straights but normally gaining a bit more on the corners. I think [in Miami] it has been the case [of being faster] in the corners 5/6/7, but maybe it has not been the case in the very slow ones – after 11/12/13. I think Red Bull has been very good in that respect. They are very good on the medium tyres, to be as fast as us at least in the very slow speed corners. And the reason why, it’s something that we need to assess and understand. I believe it’s in the fact that they have got upgrades in the last races that have made their car simply faster.” – the Ferrari team principal said.
Charles Leclerc admitted Red Bull was clearly faster for the first time this season, especially when the cars were running the softer tyres in the first stint:
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“Especially on the softer compounds, on the medium and soft, it seems that it’s been already two races that in terms of race pace, they seem to be a bit stronger and managing those tyres better,” said the world championship leader – “In qualifying, we always managed to put those tyres in the right window, which helps us. But on the on the long runs, we struggle a bit more compared to them.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes that ultimately there is so little separating the performance of his squad and the Maranello team that small details would make the difference: “It swings from circuit to circuit,” he said. “I think they are very closely matched. I think it’s just trying to piece together the best race that you can, and strategically, we were very different to Ferrari here. They had a very high downforce, we were very low downforce, and the set-up worked for us.” – Christian Horner said.