Eventually some of the answers that we hoped just a few hours before the green light, the qualification of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix he returned them. A nice sessionparticularly tight, with more than one twist and, for the pleasure of the eyes, more than one stroke of talent. The round of Leclerc was definitely one of the latter, with the Monegasque squeezing everything there was (and more) out of his SF-23, but couldn’t get closer than 1 tenth and a half from the first attempt of Sergio Perez, almost obvious poleman after Max Verstappen’s bad breakup. The impression is that the advantage available to the RB19 was at least 2 or 3 tenths higher than the result on the stopwatch, and it would have been particularly interesting to see the full potential of the car driven by the two-time Dutch World Champion. Another stupendous stroke of talent was the lap of George Russellwhich he trimmed almost half a second to his captain Lewis Hamiltonhe too, like Leclerc, draining every possible remnant of performance from his W14, despite the acclaimed difficulties of Mercedes who will try to “survive” until the Revolution announced for the month of May. And finally, the always excellent Fernando Alonso, who had to play defense in qualifying given the characteristics of his Aston Martin, but who actually attacked almost all of qualifying and found the front row. A potentially good Formula 1, but which, data in hand, has shown a reality that will not be easy to scratch, at least in the short term.
Red Bull a masterpiece of aerodynamic efficiency
The track features showcased the quality of the RB19 projectwith a package that had already shown its potential in Bahrain, but was called upon to confirm on a totally different track like that of Jeddah. The numbers we saw in free practice, confirmed in qualifying, tell of a car designed by Newey with one of the best levels of efficiency of the aerodynamic system that we remember. The Milton Keynes car is very well balancedhas all the aerodynamic load it needs, with a rear end so well anchored to the ground sometimes making the front axle seem weak. There mechanics allows Verstappen and Perez to have the maximum control in direction changes and in lateral load transfers and then, almost incredibly, the draw speed is regularly the fastest Of all the cars on the track. A unicum, difficult to find even in the history of Formula 1, where the best performing cars are generally those that produce the highest level of aerodynamic load and for this they give up something on the top speed front. In this case Adrian Newey appears to have painted a masterpiecewhich brings a level of vertical load to the track comparable to that of its opponents, but which then manages to express speed in the sprint considerably greater. An important quality must be added to the aerodynamic package Ex-Honda Power Unitstoday Red Bull Powertrains, i.e. the ability to ground the hybrid power in all accelerations up to high speeds, without suffering from the so-called clipping like all the others. It is a feature that we have seen repeating itself for the past 3 seasons and which remains to this day a strength unmatched by the competition.
Reliability: Red Bull fragile but many problems for everyone
However, the other important feature that seems to emerge from the Red Bull project is certain fragilitywith the problems with the gearbox and in the end even the breakage of the axle shaft on Verstappen’s car. A problem that objectively del resounding and which finds justification in one evidently extreme search for lightening across the board for each component, given last season’s weight problems. If in Milton Keynes they seem to be sleeping peacefully from a performance point of view, the front integrity it could turn out to be a sword of Damocles hard to handleespecially were to prevent capitalize on the advantage seen on the track right now, favoring the return of competition. However, it is worth noting i so many problems a bit for all teams and all enginesand, especially for the latter, given the regulatory stability and freezing, one is a bit surprised when one sees the list of components changed by everyone already in the second out of 23 race.
Leclerc disappointed: the corrections work but Red Bull is too far ahead
At the Ferrari house the disappointment of Leclerc after qualification it was tangible. Not so much for the penalty or missing pole, as for the awarenesswhich although i corrections on Ferrari have worked and the car has improved, Red Bull continues to be of another category, as the Monegasque had already stated after the first race. The new wings brought to the track by the Maranello team have conferred a good balance to the car and a great improvement in the slow sections of the track. The fact that all the teams have decreased the level of downforce compared to the race in Bahrain while Ferrari has increased it gives an idea of how the aerodynamic set-up of the first race was unsuitable. Here the story appeared different and betterwith corrections at the bottom for reduce porpoising which seem to have paid off, allowing you to hit the track with a softer suspension package which made a significant difference in all the corners of the first and second sectors. In fact we see it from comparative telemetry of poleman Perez, precisely Leclerc and Fernando Alonso.
Ferrari: big step forward in driving
Let’s see how Leclerc’s SF-23 number 16 is, in the led parts of the first two sectorsat least levelif not better, than both Perez’s Red Bull and Alonso’s Aston Martin, a car which confirmed a very high level of aerodynamic load it’s a incredibly solid rear. From the data of the previous sessions and of Q1 we have seen that Verstappen would have had a greater margin in the corners than Perez, but overall Ferrari has certainly already made a significant step forward compared to Sakhir.
If we also look at how Perez has built his advantage over Leclerc and Alonso we see that there is a substantial balance a bit in all types of curvebut there is a total imbalance in favor of Perez in all the strokes of I stretch.
The race with many points of interest
Downstream of all these considerations we can say that the race is actually ahead more interesting than one might think. In first row we’ll have Perez And Alonsowith the latter who will certainly try not to miss the opportunity to go to the head. In the meantime we will see the comeback attempts by Leclerc and Verstappen in conditions that weren’t easy, however, given that the race pace appeared very similar for everyone. Then there will be the desire for a ransom Sainz very disappointing in qualification and the quality of Russell who won’t want to miss the opportunity to try and stay ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The track is one of the most particular and potentially “crazy” in the world championship, so anything could happen. We will see which characteristics will prevail and if the impressions reported here will also be confirmed on the duration of the Grand Prix.
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