Victory clear And deserved the one of Max Verstappen in the Grand Prix of You love me. The World Champion once again showed his great qualities in a very difficult race, in which he showed nothing wrong rhythmability to attack (not that there were any doubts about it), of defence and of rubber management absolutely record-breaking. The challenge between the Dutchman and Charles Leclerc keep fighting each other on tenths at each lap of every race, there is not room for breathing room neither for the drivers nor for the cars, squeezed to the limit of their possibilities. But if in qualifying Ferrari showed that they had a minimum advantage thanks to led sectorsin the race the situation is invertedand it was RedBull that showed a step overall improve, albeit slightly. We have repeatedly shown the data they highlighted aerodynamic efficiency of the RB18 at high speeds, and it is now widely believed that Newey’s car is taking the lead in fast races thanks to this feature, but reducing what was seen on the track in Miami to only top speed it would be an extremely superficial analysis. The race has in fact given some technical ideas of interest and which, if examined in depth, show how it wasn’t that the quality that allowed car number 1 to win.
Let’s start from the general view of the challenge between Leclerc and Verstappen and take a look at the progress of the posting between the two during the competition.
Let’s see how in the first stint, course on medium tires, Verstappen shows a step advantage of about 3 tenths per lap, which allows him to overtake Leclerc and stretch overhead until you have about 4.5 seconds of advantage. The Leclerc crisis is attributable to a higher degradation at the front compared to Verstappen, as we will see shortly. Among other things, this had a reflex also in the management of the box output. In fact, it can be seen how the gap increases by approx 3 seconds between before and after the break. We then went to compare the two laps of the riders and we noticed an interesting thing.
In addition to a stop approx 8 tenths slowerLeclerc loses respect to Verstappen about 2.6 seconds in the first sector only. The first part of the track was the most severe on the front, with its fast corners, and that’s evident Leclerc’s caution in managing the tires in the very first meters, which we know to be one of the crucial phases for the life of the tire itself. The fact that Leclerc is so careful not to ruin the front to leave almost 2 seconds of driving alone in a few curves it shows how it was the management of the front problem more perceived by the driver of the red. We also see how Verstappen then earns about 2 and a half tenths in slow curves and this represents one of the main aspects of this race. Already during the live broadcast we noticed how, unlike in qualifying, Verstappen found performance in the central sector. This gain was generally attributed to long straight present there, but looking at the data it emerged that a large chunk of this difference was made by the Dutch in the slowest and most tortuous section of the track. With a little patience, we looked at several minutes of the onboard camera, and analyzed the numbers in more detail. The reality that emerges is that the Ferrari front, very strong in high-speed corners, it then became very weak in the slow section. Weak enough to prevent Leclerc from effectively attacking tight and winding changes of direction. To show how much we mean, we have compared the two fastest laps of the race of the two pilots where the whole question is adequately summarized.
First of all, in his best lap Leclerc had the DRS available in two out of three extensions, finding with it top speeds about 10-15 km / h higher than Verstappen. Despite this, however, he is the Dutchman to set a fastest time, confirming that it is not the top speed that makes the difference. The maximum speed is very useful of course in close duelsbut it produces little advantage in terms of lap time. Looking at the progress of the detachment we notice how the white line suddenly goes upwards, so to Verstappen’s advantage, precisely throughout the slow section of the trackwith a gap of almost half a second in favor of the Dutchman. For those wondering if this is simply due to the short distance between the two cars, we can assure you that we have done the same check for almost all 56 laps and we have found this characteristic in practically all of them. Looking at the maps of the accelerator it is also evident how this gap is produced: the understeer in such a slow and narrow stretch of track it translates into a constant delay in returning to gaswith the pilot forced to wait to accelerate to make sure you don’t end up on the wall. In fact, for the whole race Verstappen had higher speeds not so much in the corner as in the very short sprint up to curve 14 then in traction out of curve 16, which guaranteed him, among other things, to keep Leclerc out of reach in the final. Yet the F1-75 in the first sectorwith fast corners where you really need them a strong front it proved to be the best car in that stretch, how is it possible that the front stopped working like this in the following stretch? The contradiction is actually only apparent: the first section included curves at high speed of travelwhere is the downforce was very high and where the red confirmed to have available more vertical load of rivals. The winding stretch was instead extremely slowaerodynamics almost entirely lost importance and the mechanical gripand even before that, that “chemist” between rubber and asphalt. The grip found by Verstappen by virtue of the tire perfectly “in the window” guaranteed him to attack the changes of direction, and, above all, to get back on the gas first. Here we would explain the apparent better traction than the RB18 and the overtaking on Leclerc.
After the Australian Grand Prix we underlined how Red Bull’s behavior with the tires was similar to a situation of a thermal inertia less than Ferrari on the covers. From there it was evidently done a great job by Newey and companions to shift the balance of the RB18 towards the front, protect the front tires more, effectively reversing the situation. In fact it was in Miami RedBull to have the greatest thermal inertiawith a car capable of keep the front tires in the perfect temperature window despite the long straights and it is no coincidence that the F1-75 did better with the harder compounds. The manic attention on this aspect by the engineers of the Austrian team it was also noticed in some radio teams that we heard between the wall and Verstappen during the race, in which the wall gave the driver the detail of which were the curves where they detected the greatest slip of the front tires and how to limit it as much as possible. An absolute focus on the topicwhich evidently it was the hub of post Melbourne work for the team of Horner and companions.
Ferrari therefore found itself suffering, with the tires that worked very well when there was a vertical load to ensure grip, but that they quickly emerged from the optimal window and in the slow stretch they began to slip, provoking graining, understeer and obvious loss of performance.
In our opinion, this is the key to interpreting the current situation. RedBull brought on the track important updates and packagesalso of remodeling of the car massgoing to find a perfect balance and succeeding in stabilize the front end while carrying on the track an overall level of downforce lower than that of Ferrari. The reasons why the F1-75 suffered from this problem despite the increased load can only be known in Maranello, and are probably attributable to a car that has not found a perfect set-up for the race. In general, also looking at the Imola race, the problem seemed similar and it is now clear that the Italian team must lead updates on the track to regain performance leadership. Binotto’s philosophy was clear right from the start: instead of small and continuous updates he chose to optimize work working on maxi packages, the first of which will arrive in the most representative race of performances, namely the next Barcelona Grand Prix. In the meantime it was necessary clench the teeth. This approach optimize budget management cap and lets you focus your team on one efficient overall development which can lead to important leaps. On the other hand RedBull has made a leap forward by about half a second during the tests with the first package, arriving about 2 tenths behind Ferrari. During these first five Grands Prix, the F1-75 remained the same and is now about 2 tenths behind the RB18 on the race pace, so we can imagine that overall Verstappen’s car has improved by about 4 tenths from the first race, which added to the 5 tests takes almost a second. Binotto’s confidence in the package for Barcelona has been quite evident and nothing prevents the F1-75 from making equally conspicuous steps forward, which is why there is no reason to make judgments on the merits at the moment. Sara the rankings at the end of the year to establish who worked bestin the meantime we can only continue to enjoy a season that still holds many surprises, including, why not, the Miami circuit which may have been eccentric and excessive around the track, but which provided an absolutely level technical and driving challenge and many interesting ideas to analyze.
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