A perfect start taking advantage of the straight that leads to the braking of Turn 2 and braking to the limit even while locking the front left tyre to guarantee the lead of the Grand Prix: in the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom, Carlos Sainz gave the Ferrari pit wall and fans a moment of hope with a sparkling start in which even without being able to use the power unit with the updated hybrid system (brought in Russia only on the SF21 car of Charles Leclerc), Carlos managed to lead the race on the Black Sea with great authority in the first laps.
Then, however, Lando Norris gradually caught up with the #55 SF21 car because Carlos Sainz had to deal with graining, or the formation of rubber curls on the tread that reduce grip. The former McLaren had started with medium tires unlike Charles Leclerc who started with hard and practically for all cars the hard compound in Russia proved to be the best compound in the race compared to the tires characterized by yellow bands. The low temperatures and the poor grip of the asphalt, in fact, created a mix that made things difficult for Carlos Sainz in the first stint.
As underlined by today’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport in an analysis by Paolo Filisetti, the Ferrari SF21 slips too much due to a congenital defect that was possible to improve, but not completely solve, with so little room for maneuver between 2020 and 2021. In addition, the Scuderia from Maranello decided to run with little impact on the ailerons, an unloaded set-up that paid off in qualifying but was less efficient in the race. “The difficult tire management is a fundamental problem for the SF21 – La Gazzetta dello Sport informs – although Ferrari has introduced a new rear suspension and revised the lower aerodynamics with a front skirt placed under the nose that increased the load and improved balance compared to the SF-1000” – the Italian daily newspaper explains.
Depending on the circuit and on many other factors such as temperatures, however, the management of the tires and the identification of the correct operating window of the tires remain an unknown that can sometimes see the Ferrari very effective (as in Baku for example) or in difficulty as occurred for Carlos Sainz in the first stint of the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, a situation that forced the Spanish driver to stop in the pits after just 14 laps while losing the lead in favor of Lando Norris.