There is a very, too short blanket trying to dress both ends of this world cup. A blanket that, on a track like that of the French GP, ends up exposing embarrassing nudity. In my humble opinion, there is a little too much talk about Power Units and tires in this world championship. Of course, there is the mystery of the Mercedes engines that, count in hand, make less than expected compared to the competition. There is also a diatribe with an ancient flavor between Verstappen (or rather, Red Bull) and Pirelli. But when circuits like Castellet arrive, made up of fast corners rather than braking, leaning curves that create strong lateral stresses on the wheels and require, in short, high aerodynamic efficiency. And then the blanket is lifted and discovers the gap between Red Bull and Mercedes on the one hand, the rest of the world on the other. Even with the same engines, the gaps expand. And weak is the Ferrari that ends up out of the points, lapped on the track, ground in the race not only by McLaren but also by Alpha Tauri, Alpine, Aston Martin.
Binotto: “Something went wrong”
Is a surprise? Not so. If anything, the contrast between Saturday and Sunday is striking, between excellent qualifying performances – or at least decent, like this time – and a race pace often bleak. It is striking that in the post-match TV analyzes the comparison between Castellet and Barcelona is made, citing, for the latter, Leclerc’s duel with Bottas (but forgetting the 28 seconds remedied by the same and the almost minute by the winner). In Spain it was certainly better, or less worse, but this does not extend the blanket. Various factors are mentioned for the thud of the Castellet, from the wind to the different air density due to temperature variations. All true, all plausible, but still the same for everyone. The perfect synthesis brings it out Charles Leclerc with his “We eat these tires too quickly”. I appreciate your sincerity in admitting that there won’t be much to be done between now and the end of the year. The race for developments has been over for a while, more or less since May: what we have seen in these races are the remnants of what was in the pipeline at the beginning of the year. And it would still be necessary to distinguish between performance developments – which are good everywhere – and adaptations to the different tracks. In any case, as Laurent Clouseau Mekies, increasingly deputy to Mattia Binotto said, between now and the end of the year it is done with what is there.
Leclerc: “We need to understand for next year”
Why does Ferrari take the poles, or at least the second / third rows on the grid, but then does not keep its promises in the race? Because it is a an extreme project to enhance certain characteristics, first of all the ability to quickly send the tires up to temperature, transmitting energy to the wheels: and this, in some way, becomes a defect over the distance. It does not help, in the preparation for the weekend, the fact of having shortened the free sessions, so that the “long runs” are always shorter: but this too is a factor the same for everyone and cannot be an excuse. Is it surprising that the best time in qualifying came on such different tracks as Monaco and Baku? In my opinion, no. Because even with such different levels of downforce, they are both traction tracks, in which the lateral component imposed by the corners is missing. So it is the SF21 that is a short blanket, an “incomplete” machine. I remain convinced that he will still do well on some circuits of this troubled 2021 calendar, but on others he will leave fans with a nose as long as the Mistral straight.
French GP 2021, order of arrival
And this should make us think, because it could be the indication of a lack of design culture. A shortcoming – again in relative terms, God forbid! – which risks falling also on the next season, that of the Great Aerodynamic Revolution. For Ferrari 2022 there is still much talk (and perhaps not surprisingly) of the new PU, which will have the compressor in an advanced position, a repositioned intercooler and no longer rectangular, in short, many characteristics of the Mercedes engine (but not, at least for now , the same “cleaning” of installation in the frame). However it is not quite as clear how David Sanchez and his people will be able to interpret the new generation of wing machines. In the last five years, that is, since the 2017 regulatory change, we have had a high-load single-seater (the SF70H), one optimized for qualification (SF71H), one with high aerodynamic penetration (SF90), one with excessive resistance (SF1000) and now a project that only goes strong on stop-and-go tracks. Net of the well-known motoring vicissitudes, there are five changes of philosophy in as many seasons. When that of coherence arrives, I am sure that the blanket will stretch again.