Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?
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The F1-75 has served Ferrari well so far this season, but principal Mattia Binotto is expecting a lot from the team’s upcoming set of upgrades. Charles Leclerc leads Formula 1 titleholder Max Verstappen by 19 points in the drivers’ standings despite finishing second to the Red Bull ace in Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix.
After Red Bull enjoyed their own boost in performance having made changes ahead of Imola in April, Ferrari are making adjustments of their own before the Spanish Grand Prix on May 22. Specifically, The Race reported a new floor will be introduced ahead of Barcelona, which should help reduce some of the porpoising issues that were evident in Florida.
“In the next races it will be at least our turn to try to develop as much as we can the car by introducing upgrades,” said the Ferrari chief. “I think it’s not a surprise that we may have a package in Barcelona which will be important for us.”
Binotta conceded Red Bull appear to now be “a couple of tenths per lap” faster than Ferrari following the improvements they made ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. However, he’s hopeful his outfit can reclaim the advantage in that field with their imminent update, adding: “As usual, I hope the package we are introducing is working as expected in order to try to catch up the current gap we’ve got compared to Red Bull.”
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Leclerc failed to reclaim the lead last Sunday after Verstappen took control on Lap 8, a result that underlined Red Bull’s strengths for the time being. The incumbent champion may reside in second but continues to close the gap as he now leads the F1 field on three race victories so far this season.
Verstappen started third on the grid behind an all-Ferrari front row but managed to instantly move into second after overtaking Carlos Sainz at the first turn. It wasn’t just the RB18’s straight-line speed that appeared to give it the edge, however, as Red Bull have reduced the deficit around slow corners.
Breaking down the Florida result in finer detail, Binotto added: “Red Bull were very good on the medium tyres to be as fast as us in the very slow speed corners. It’s something we need to assess and understand. And, in fact, I believe it’s that they have got upgrades in the last races that have made their car simply faster.”
Hoping to end Ferrari’s 15-year drought without an F1 championship, Leclerc said this week he ‘likes being hunted’ in the standings as it “means we are doing something right.” Winning races is a more enjoyable method of measuring that metric, however, and is a task Binotto hopes will be made easier by Ferrari’s upgrades before travelling to Catalonia.
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