Ferrari wins because it has a choice – Federico Albano

The Australian Grand Prix delivered a unequivocal verdict on the values ​​on the track, at least in Melbourne, but not only. Leclerc with her F1-75 has dominatedthere is no other word to describe the performance of the red number 16. He said it, but it was evident during the race, the Monegasque he could do what he wanted with his car, the fastest laps went out without him even looking for them, and in the end the absolute fastest lap arrived on old hard rubber 36 laps, in a last lap in the middle of traffic, while Fernando Alonso with an average tire of just 3 laps could not find a time closer than 6 tenths. This is to give the idea of ​​a huge advantage that the Maranello team brought to the track in the Australian race, the result of a series of quality that this weekend had more weight than the first two, but above all of the freedom of choice enjoyed by the engineers of the red at the moment.

After the Jeddah race some concern had spread about lack of top speed of Ferrari. But the truth is that the power is not lackingit is on the contrary the downforce that abounds. The maximum speed can be useful in battle situations very tight, but in the economy of a race and a championship it is the vertical load a give the absolute best results. But contrary to what one might think, downforce is not an option naturally available for everyone. It is not enough to “give more wing” to obtain the desired overall load, but it is one inherent characteristic of the car and with it the resultant balancing. To be able to use the “weapon” of the load you must have precisely two arrows in quiver: the possibility to “put it” on the car and the power to counteract the resulting increase in resistance. What happened this weekend shows how at the moment in Maranello the arrows are both there and have been shot at will. The move towards the front of the balance to protect the front end that suffered from graining it was possible thanks to an aerodynamics that he answers without surprises to changes in structure and to a Power Unit that it guaranteed the necessary push to compensate for this choice. A range of options that seems to opponents to miss Right now. On the car of Verstappen Red Bull technicians have gradually increased downforce over the weekend, but without being able to reach the level of F1-75 and, furthermore, producing a balance that the pilot has never liked as a harbinger of a front particularly weak. In the race this translated into one bad tire management for the RB18, with Verstappen who had to turn with his foot raised to try to preserve the tires in some way, accusing an average delay of over 7 tenths per lap in the first stint, and about 4 in the secondbefore then the withdrawal.

It is clear that these possibility of choice they are the result of one car born wellwhich offers a wide range of options to engineers and pilots and tells the motivations of a redhead who has proven herself competitive on all three tracks so far encountered. The rubber handling capacity thanks to the downforce is a deadly weaponand the superiority of Ferrari in this is revealed if it is noted that in all the racing stints covered up to now in the world championship, theunique where Ferrari did not show a superior pace to Red Bull was the second in Jeddah, where the hard rubber proved to have no degradation and ticking off the main weapon in the hands of Leclerc. Overall the red team is still expressing one overall superior performance: also in Melbourne the Ferraris showed a work of better factory preparation, with an already excellent basic set-up since Friday. This obviously allows you to refine your choices over the course of the weekend, arriving at the sessions that count with a very well optimized package. Looking at the cars however it seems that even there is even more margin to squeeze for the red. The more you manage to lower single-seaters and more increases the aerodynamic load generated by the venturi channels. This brings a double benefit aerodynamic efficiency, both because the load generated by the bottom has a lesser impact on the drag, and because a greater load on the bottom makes it possible to reduce the incidence of the wings. There Red Bullthanks to the fact of do not suffer from porpoisingalready manages to turn with a car extremely low on the asphalt and it is not said that his best efficiency in the extension on the straight does not depend on this in a significant way. Ferrari still has a lot of margin in this respect, with a porpoising than in the land of Kangaroos has been very pronounced compared to the first two races, making even the Ferrari drivers look a bit like kangaroos. In practice, the only choice that appears limited at the moment for the Binotto team is precisely that ground clearance. This means that there is still a significant amount of performance in the car to extract and explains the worry declared in unison by rivals.

Remaining at Ferrari, the position of the other red driver deserves a few words, Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard probably arrived in Australia with the higher pressure than all the riders on the grid. The fear that Leclerc would fly away in the championship evidently gave Sainz a style weekend in or out. He has seen how much the Spaniard was already pulling in free practice, showing a desperate need to stay ahead of Leclerc in order not to risk ending up being the wingman. A series of events unlucky (that of the red flag in qualifying we allow ourselves to define it pure bad luck) has further increased the weight on the shoulders of the Spaniard beyond the level of enduranceresulting in some errors of evaluation. Like the one for which, instead of settling for a second row with a conservative lap on Saturday, Sainz tried to pull the same with cold tires and ended up making a mistake, or like the one in the race, with the gravel exit anxious to recover positions. The impression is that Leclerc’s escape in the standings could be a relief for Sainzwho will no longer have the anxiety of an immediate response to his partner’s performance, thus regaining a clarity that this weekend (for one reason or another) he lacked.

Behind the leading duo we find one Mercedes who, after rolling up her sleeves, finds one positive racethanks first of all to one great performance of the two drivers and a somewhat improved tire management. The problem of porpoising is still huge, and the gap was still of about 1 second per lap from Leclerc’s Ferrari, but the conditions were for a much worse weekend than it was. The fact that Perez was running on times not too different from the Mercedes duo gives the idea that it was the Australian weekend Red Bull to going back than the group. Together with Wolff’s team there is also somehow resurrected McLaren. Difficult to understand the performance swing of the Woking team, if not thinking that the MCL36 could hide many problems, between trim and aerodynamic instability, thanks to the new asphaltbilliard style, of the Australian track.

Once again truly to applaud the new Pirelli tires. We have seen cars go into crisis in terms of tire management due to a sub-optimal set-up and at the same time who, how Albon he managed to do the whole race on the same set of hard tires, finding thanks to that the first world championship point for Williams. The product of the Italian house continues to reflect the requests received and it’s selective, while allowing pilots to push hard in each round when they have a good balance, thus making the audience enjoy one natural and not artificial spectacle.
Imola important weekend – After the Easter break, Formula 1 arrives in Europe and in Italywith the race of Imola. Many can arrive from the Romagna track definitive answers. The track is indeed extremely technical and selectiveand will only emerge the best car. It will also be the weekend of the first sprint qualification of the season, and therefore the teams will have just one session to optimize the set-up of the cars, becoming fundamental the I work in a factory with lots of points up for grabs. Right now, on paper, the Ferrari favorite part. But Red Bull and Verstappen remain extremely formidable opponentswho will vigorously pursue an important result, in search of a blow to morale of the Maranello team. The new cars also confirmed in Melbourne to be able to follow much more close compared to the past and on the circuit named after Enzo and Dino Ferrari we could see a beautiful show.

FP | Federico Albano


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