Italian GP 2022
Ferrari had expected Max Verstappen to set the best time at Monza on Saturday. But Charles Leclerc qualified his opponent. The changes made to F1-75 paid off. As for the race, Leclerc believes in winning the Ferrari home game. Red Bull is hoping for better tire management thanks to the larger wing.
Spa was a runaway for Ferrari. In Belgium, Red Bull allowed red cars to stand on lap one. The circuit in the Ardennes seemed tailor-made for the most efficient racing car in the region. But already a week later in Zandvoort Ferrari reported back. Charles Leclerc would have been on pole there for no fault of his. Another week later, Monegasse captured what he had remembered in Max Verstappen’s living room.
He couldn’t have chosen a better time. Ironically, in Ferrari’s big home game at Monza, the World Cup runner-up turned out to be everyone. “We didn’t expect Spa to be able to drive in pole position here,” said Leclerc with a smile. “We surprised ourselves. Of course, you can always do a little more. But I was really happy with my last lap. I got everything together.”
Ferrari fast on the straights
Leclerc overtook his first chaser by 0.145 seconds. And if Carlos Sainz had caught a slipstream in Q3 in the final, the second red car would probably have been faster than Red Bull, which had a starting number of 1. “My outlap was a bit chaotic. I was hoping Lando could pull me over. Yeah it didn’t work out.” In the end it was the Spaniard who pulled McLaren behind him. In return, Lando Norris gave Leclerc a slipstream.
“I was able to improve in the corners compared to the first Q3 run, but lost a lot on the straights without a front man. Considering that, a lap time of 1:20.4 minutes is respectable.” Sainz trailed his teammate by 0.268 seconds. He wasn’t really sad. A grid penalty would set him back for Sunday’s race anyway.
This time the matter was reversed. Not Red Bull was quicker on the straights, but Ferrari. Italian engineers trimmed their car for top speed, while championship leaders chose a slightly larger rear wing. This is at the expense of top speed, but brings more contact pressure to the eleven corners. As a result, Red Bull was quick in the corners. However, too much time was wasted on the Straits. Red Bull calculated three to four tenths for Ferrari.
Red Bull hopes to race pace
Some wings and the most powerful engine: that’s what brought Ferrari to the top. The power unit from Maranello has the most power, although the difference between manufacturers is small. The Ferrari is said to generate three to four kilowatts more than the Honda Drive. That’s four to five hp in old currency. Ferrari is said to give Mercedes a mileage of five kilowatts. That would be seven horsepower. And Renault is also perfectly tuned with its power unit.
Red Bull’s engineers decided the setup direction chosen with the race in mind. You knew that an engine penalty would cause Verstappen to fall a few places behind anyway. In theory, the fifth engine of the season would cost him five grid positions. “My lap was decent. But we were too slow in the first field. The first chicane and straight up to turn three cost us,” Verstappen explains.
Due to the larger wing, the DRS effect is slightly larger. On top of that, Red Bull expects Verstappen to be able to better protect the tires with more grip at the rear. Estimates about distance at less wear and tear than a competition. “Long runs on Friday were great,” Verstappen said. But his rivals aren’t too worried.
Ferrari is back on course
After the second Monza pole, Leclerc also feels on course for his second win at the Autodromo. “I felt good in the car on Friday. Our race pace should be strong.” Ferrari used the training and experimented a lot so that Spa would not repeat itself in the home game at Monza. “Carlos and I tested different things. We worked with him in the right direction and improved our pace.”
Even at the Monza, the ground wool makes it necessary to lift the car up to prevent the underbody from peeking out too low. In Mercedes, increased ground clearance means reduced downforce and increased drag. You fell out the window again. Ferrari made the right conclusion from the Spa debacle. F1-75 returned to its comfort zone. “Of course, the rear breaks down in one place or another. But the car is predictable with this level of downforce,” says Leclerc.
The problem of tires overheating too quickly in endurance, like in Spa and Zandvoort, did not follow Ferrari in training sessions. Here too things are better than last time. Maybe route attributes would help. Monza doesn’t put too much pressure on the tyres. The rear tires get the most challenge from the chickens. The fact that they are relatively more stressed was the case in Austria and Canada until recently. Two circuits where Ferrari were well positioned.
Sainz expects a busy race
Home victories are within Ferrari’s reach. But this can only be achieved with a flawless run. After several breakdowns over the past few weeks, the team management issued the motto of calming the system and not taking too many risks ahead of the most important race weekend of the season. Nothing is more important to Ferrari than an easy process. This has already been achieved in qualifying.
What will calm strategists a bit: A one-stop race is practically scheduled in a typical race. There is little that can go wrong per se. Looking at past performances, Mercedes shouldn’t be a rival. And Verstappen is not in the immediate vicinity. Even if the world champion appears behind the red car, Leclerc should be able to fight back thanks to the short wing.
Red Bull is expecting less tire wear – and is expected to have another small advantage up its sleeve. No car can boost as long as the RB18. Thanks to Honda, electric power lasts the longest. “That should help us race.” But Ferrari dreams of a major coup. “We have to finish it tomorrow, otherwise the Pole will do us no good,” demands Leclerc.
A difficult task awaits for teammate Sainz from 18th on the grid. He has to dig the field. He has the car because the top speed is just right. He should not board the DRS train. “I’m looking forward to a mixed race with a lot of doubles because many drivers start from positions in which they don’t normally stand. The first 20 laps in particular should be busy.” until the first pit is closed.
Web guru. Amateur thinker. Unapologetic problem solver. Zombie expert. Hipster-friendly travel geek. Social mediaholic.