Netherlands GP 2023, Sector 1: Ferrari Lacking Downforce and Experiencing Understeer
At the first braking point after the main straight, Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull approach at similar speeds, with the RB19 lagging behind by approximately 1 km/h. The first turn is a right-hander taken at medium speed, featuring a slight positive banking that assists in entering the corner. Already in this instance, the red car struggles, losing 4 km/h compared to Max and a significant 8 km/h to Lando’s MCL60.
Moving on to turn 2, a fast left-hander, Charles loses as much as 10 km/h in terms of minimum speed. The Monegasque driver attempts to keep the throttle engaged and maintain the car’s momentum through the corner, but the contrast is evident. Then, we reach turn 3, renowned for its high inward banking. Here, the gap reduces to about 5 km/h, and on exit, the Ferrari achieves better traction, reaching full throttle ahead of the others. The subsequent three curves are taken with ease. At this point, the gap in terms of kilometers hovers around 2 tenths.
Netherlands GP 2023, Sector 2: Ferrari’s Kilometer Gap Increases to 0.3s/km
The second sector demands significant downforce, and the sweeping-radius corners often challenge temperature management during the lap. The first corner of concern is number 7. Here, it’s the Red Bull that prevails, putting 3 km/h between itself and McLaren, and 2 km/h between itself and the Ferrari. The subsequent corner, number 8, is also very fast, and it’s where the issues with the SF-23 start to emerge. It gives away another 12 km/h to the Woking-based car and 11 km/h to RB19, car number 1.
The main issue lies in the faster corners, particularly a chronic deficiency in minimum speed at mid-corner. Observing the McLaren, one might think that the difference originates from the use of the floor, which is not yet fully understood at Maranello. We then arrive at turns 9 and 10, medium-speed corners, where the gap narrows. The exit from turn 10 is good, confirming the excellent mechanical rear grip.
It’s not a coincidence that when they need to make changes to the front end, they adjust the rear by stiffening or softening it. This implies that the suspension is inherently capable of generating substantial mechanical grip. DRS opens 50 meters after exiting turn 10, and the red car can showcase its performance. However, in sector T2, the kilometer gap increases to 3 tenths.
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Netherlands GP 2023, Sector 3: Charles Leclerc Sets the Best Split Time
Then we reach the final sector, where the sequence of turns 11-12 awaits. In this portion of the track, Ferrari doesn’t falter against the RB19. However, McLaren excels at turn 12, managing a substantial 96 km/h of minimum speed at mid-corner. A positive sign for the Woking team, as they needed to improve grip at lower speeds.
Moving on to turn 13, taken at around 180 km/h. At this point, the car from Maranello loses some ground, which it subsequently regains on the straight. Effectively, this sector is quite short, but it’s worth noting that Charles Leclerc’s skill at the wheel makes the difference, as he clocks the best split time with car number 16. The explanation is straightforward, stemming from his tire management prowess and the absence of high-speed corners demanding vital downforce in this section of the Dutch circuit.
Source: Alessandro Arcari and Niccoló Arnerich for FUnoanalisitecnica