The first of two Grands Prix on the track of Zeltweg brings a variety of confirmations and of clarifications. There RedBull at this moment the most complete car, able to defend themselves (and to win anyway) on the slopes challenging at the front, of dominate in those where the rear counts most, agile in the strait, a missile on a straight line, with a top pilot that after a couple of seasons already at a very high level, he is running the current one as his current main rival has often done in past seasons. In the Styrian Grand Prix the only moment of vulnerability which had Max Verstappen it was there departure and the first round, and after a perfect sprint at the start, the Dutchman sets the first corner to perfection, finding one traction clearly better than Lewis Hamilton.
It is evident how much Verstappen succeeds in go on gas first is that speed difference in traction there is in his favor in the climb that leads to turn 3. Verstappen gains almost 50 meters, invaluable in preventing any attack on Hamilton that thereafter it can only tag along and indeed he must guard against attacks by Perez and Norris while the leader of the race and the world championship leaves.
The rest of the run between the two in front sees a Verstappen perfect in every round, with a RB16B capable of impressing a unreachable pace also for Hamilton, who moves away tenth after tenth. At the end of the race the loss of performance of both Mercedes is important, with the tires that no longer allow Hamilton or Bottas to push, and Verstappen who also gets to have almost 20 seconds ahead of the British. A comparison of performance which leaves no room for doubts or interpretations on the values on the track and whose trend is well summarized in the graph of the relative gaps in the race.
Looking carefully at the data of all the last races we noticed how the RedBull both constantly faster than Mercedes on the straight. We also note a aerodynamic trim of Milton Keynes cars tend to be more discharge, but all of this does not translate nor in one cornering speed minor in qualification, nor in a decay greater than the tires in the race. Indeed at the Red Bull Ring it was the Red Bull a to prevail also in this respect. There greater part of the downforce (about 60/65%) comes from bottom of the car and from diffuser, but these parts they don’t have the same weight preponderant from the point of view of aerodynamic resistance, where, for example, the incidence ofrear wing. The RB16B is therefore able to generate enough downforce to handle the tires to perfection and to be able to be fast cornering, but at the same time to run with rear wing configurations extremely the more it downloads of Mercedes, and these two things are possible at the same time only if the bottom and the diffuser of the car they work better compared to the competition. The cuts to the aerodynamics of the fund between last season and this were therefore much better interpreted by the Austrian team, which, also thanks to the ad high rake, found a working point in perfect balance for his 2021 car. Not only that. With the impression that Mercedes power has not particularly increased compared to the past season and at the same time that the last step made by Honda allowed the Japanese engine to come into being at the head of the group also at the level of horses we have that at this moment for the team and for the driver 7 times world champions it is very difficult to cope to a team that has now won 4 races in a row and that, although still in the first third of the season, al title can start at least a think about it up. But, we want to remark it again, it’s not just power.
At the beginning of the hybrid era, the big advantage of horses which had Mercedes allowed Brackley’s team to aerodynamically load the car and find at the same time rubber management is straight speed. This year’s RedBull is doing the opposite, finding though the same results, thanks to a package of management of flows on the car body and floor that’s right now it has no equal in efficiency. It is no coincidence that the chunky aerodynamic upgrade package brought in Portugal by the team led by Horner was really concentrated in this area, and that, after a couple of races to fine-tune it, it begins to show its beneficial effects. For its part, Mercedes fails to generate equally charged without running into one increased resistance to advancement, weakness in reality of many of the “W-XX” of these years, never revealed, however, thanks to the many horses that came from the bonnet. Furthermore, this year the motorists of Brackley struggle to match the performance of the Honda power unit, especially from the point of view of management of the hybrid part. In an effort to better manage the race pace, Wolff’s team continues to run with very high downforce levels, sometimes, as in this case, too beyond the ideal level for the covers, suffering at the end of the stints. The result of all this is the current championship standings and a Hamilton rightly concerned, clamoring updates to his team so as not to miss the eighth title. THE very few updates brought on W12 from the beginning of the season, however, they seem to confirm Wolff’s words, when he states that there is no further development program for the current season, giving the impression of being willing to take the risk of losing this year’s title, in order to still be in the leading group with the new regulatory cycle. The season though it’s still long, and it is certainly early to give Mercedes for defeat already. Honda reliability continues to leave some doubts (see Gasly this weekend) and this could be one of the key themes when it comes at the end of the season and you will risk paying heavy penalties.
Ferrari keeps its promise
As for the red, the graph shown above is eloquent. With lots of downforce the car suffers in qualifying but he manages the tires infinitely better in the race. The rear axle of the SF21 it is one of the parts where Maranello has concentrated most after the past season and the result is that when the limit set by the track is at the rear, the behavior of the car is much better. When then the choice of trim it is so openly done towards the race pace, with a heavily loaded wing despite one of the fastest tracks in the world, the result is that during the Grand Prix the Ferrari team has been undoubtedly the third force on the track and without the vicissitudes of Leclerc’s first lap, the fifth place in the race it would have been comfortably within reach. More, however, it is difficult to think. Leclerc’s race time from after his first stop to finish was however About 18 seconds longer at the respective competition time of Perez. The top four run a separate championship, in which the redhead still does not participate.
The average of the stints sees Sainz is Leclerc not far from Perez and even in front of Bottas (in crisis at the end) in the second part of the race and this is still a nice sign. Also very beautiful reaction from the Maranello team after the heavy French debacle, and absolutely shareable the choice to try a radical change of approach even at the cost of sacrificing a few sessions, such as this weekend’s qualifying, just to find certainties also in view of future projects. Now a doubt whether to repeat it same approach also next weekend, but with the unknown of softer compounds and any rain which, however, will require some serious reflection on the choices to be made. It must be said that, especially this year, tire management is so fundamental that a shift of the set-up base towards a greater load is generally desirable to have good performance in the race. Of course, if already normally the SF21 struggled on the straight to overcome the opponents, like this it’s even more difficult, and Leclerc noticed it, stuck behind the very fast McLaren of (a very slow) Ricciardo for several laps, despite a considerably higher pace. But the famous “blanket”Is short and you can’t have it all right now. In general, however, one better tire management it is proving to be a weapon overall even better than raw power of the engine. Just look at the performance of the redhead, which despite being a chaser on the cavalry front, was undoubtedly the car with the reference pace as regards the third force on an absolutely engine-driven track.
Norris stellar season
In all of this Norris he still knew capitalize the starting position with a one-hour raceintelligence extreme. After the first 8 laps in third position, the young Englishman has practically let Perez and Bottas pass so as not to give a race pace too high for his tire management and in the second stint he knew dose the pace to finish growing, despite Sainz having anyway much more. A season so far absolutely top notch for the young British, which shows speed skills at the same time management of tender situations uncommon.
We are back on track in a few days then, with softer compounds it’s still the weather unknown. RedBull will try to confirm, with all the underdogs, possibly with two cars on the podium. Mercedes hope for rain to be able to play better cards (especially his top driver). Ferrari to try to find compromises that help her in qualifying without losing pace in the race. We will see from Friday what changes in the approach of the teams.