Both free practice sessions saw Ferrari prevail over Red Bull in the time table, but the challenge between the RB18 and the F1-75 appears once again in the name of balance. Also for this reason, the work in the respective factories continued unabated in the two weeks between the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and the Australian stage, both in terms of preparing the set-up and implementing the updates. Both in Maranello and Milton Keynes new components were in fact already installed on board the cars during free practice in Melbourne, which together with the changes expected for the spring series of European races will constitute the main evolutionary step of the two single-seaters. head.
The novelty in the house Ferrari consists of a modification to the speaker ramp, difficult to appreciate from the external images, but declared in the documents of the “Show & Tell”, the static display of the cars in the pit lane desired by the Federation for this season. At Maranello, efforts were made to optimize the management of flows in the extractor exit path, trying to improve aerodynamic efficiency to generate more load without excessively increasing drag, a real weak point at the time of the F1-75 in comparison. with the direct rival. The first free practice sessions in Melbourne also revealed that the Scuderia is still closely monitoring the car’s ground clearance, crucial parameters for maximizing load generation while trying to contain porpoising.
In fact, the Rossa showed an evident aerodynamic rebound on the Albert Park straights, a criticality which, however, at the same time shows some room for improvement for Ferrari on this front. The prevention of porpoising in fact requires compromise choices on the set-up that inevitably sacrifice absolute performance. The F1-75 could therefore make a tangible leap forward once the updates to the bottom are ready to counteract the phenomenon from an aerodynamic point of view. While in, in Australia Ferrari was able to reduce the ground clearance of the single-seater compared to what was initially estimatedsince the new road surface turned out to be smoother and less offset than previous editions.
On the other hand, Red Bull continues to show excellent poropoising management skills. The RB18 in fact touches the asphalt continuously in the high-speed sections, without incurring the rebound that currently afflicts the Red. The Milton Keynes team can therefore afford to adopt minimum ground clearance for the carmaximizing overall aerodynamic efficiency which contributes to the RB18’s excellent speed peaks. In Melbourne, the Anglo-Austrian team also introduced an update to the front wingin detail a less squared geometry of the external vertical strips of the endplates.
Overall, however, Red Bull still appears far from having found the optimal balance, with Max Verstappen complaining on several occasions of suffering from understeer in fast corners. A behavior that could derive from an unbalanced rear set-up to improve traction when exiting the many slow corners of the track, or once again from the difficulty in getting the front tires up to temperature, a critical issue that already emerged in Jeddah and Bahrain.