If it is true that Silverstone, like Paul Ricard, is a front limited track, it is equally true that at Paul Ricard, between temperatures and set-up, Ferrari had the problem of not putting enough energy into the tires. At Silverstone, between the high inflation pressures and the high asphalt temperatures, we found ourselves with the opposite problem, namely not to over-energize the tires to avoid the famous blistering problems.
Ferrari was therefore able to optimize its set-up by leveraging some characteristics that naturally matched the limits imposed by the track conditions. On the contrary, Mercedes and Red Bull had the problem of trying to somehow limit the amount of energy discharged on the tires. From here you can also guess the attempt to unload the car a lot by Mercedes, and the reason for Verstappen’s regret after realizing that their load level was perhaps too high for the race. Of course the issue is not only aerodynamics, but also mechanical. In one of his streams, Nico Rosberg revealed that the keystone of Mercedes’ understanding of Pirelli tires at the beginning of the cycle was a mechanical one, and that when they understood how to adjust the car from the point of view of the suspension package, anti-roll bars, differential and all the mechanical part of the set-up, the Brackley team made the leap in quality that allowed them to begin dominating the sport. And this explains how a car as aerodynamically unloaded as Hamilton’s W12 could still generate so much energy in the tire that it even generated blistering problems.
Moving on to the harder compound, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz’s SF21 continued to perform well despite appearances, but Lewis Hamilton no longer had the problem of tire overheating and found himself in his ideal condition, where, once the optimal window for tyre use is reached, the repetition of fast laps enhances the performance of the tire in an incomparable virtuous circle (even for his teammate). This situation brought to light the basic difference of the two cars, especially between power, aerodynamic efficiency and grip, which the whole tire issue had masked in the first stint.
The performance of Ferrari is however important, because it is really evident that the Maranello team’s work has taken the right direction and is leading to increasingly concrete results, like a big puzzle of which at first it is difficult to find every piece, but which appears more and more simple as you get closer to the end.
Charles and Carlos also praised the aerodynamic balance of the SF21 car, which is important because it means that the engineers are able to modulate the center of aerodynamic pressure even on a track with different corners in terms of radius and travel speed. In short, Ferrari has certainly reached an all-time low in 2020 but is coming out of that bad situation with quality work. Finally, the rule of the single mapping has made hybrid power, a sector in which Maranello excels, more important than that of the internal combustion engine as well as placing the management of tires and the various compounds in absolute first place for weight on performance. This is certainly a great help for the team led by Mattia Binotto, taking into consideration that fact that from the data and it looks like Ferrari has reduced the power deficit by half, but is not yet at the level of its competition.
The drivers, never forget them
Finally, the pair of Ferrari drivers prove to be really on a high level and able to collaborate effectively. Charles Leclerc had a weekend at a stellar level, between concentration, coolness, speed, alertness, pace and tire management. Carlos Sainz had a series of unfortunate circumstances but from which he emerged very well, and without Ferrari’s pit stop mistake he could have tried to attack Lando Norris’ fourth position in the race. The next race in Budapest is therefore interesting. Warm conditions are expected, on an extremely winding track (nicknamed the Monaco without the guard rails), so on paper a track that could be very favorable for Ferrari. Without forgetting that on such a track the big favorite should be Red Bull, with a Max Verstappen that we imagine will arrive hungrier than ever. Of course Hamilton will not be sitting and watching from the sidelines. The challenge for the 2020 Formula 1 title is (surprisingly, it must be admitted) more and more exciting.