Ferrari leads on points, Red Bull wins. The two best off-road cars reach their destination in different ways. The Red Bull RB18 is the fastest car on the straights, the Ferrari F1-75 on the curves. Who has better cards?
It is a draw in the duel for the World Cup. Ferrari leads on points with a score of 157: 151. Red Bull after wins 3-2. Ferrari has more pole positions, more fastest laps, more laps in the lead, Red Bull is due to retire more, but has a sprint victory to his credit. Drivers’ positions are similarly balanced. Charles Leclerc leads with Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez with Carlos Sainz. Ferrari is leading 7: 5 after the podium.
Both cars not only look completely different visually. They also have completely different character traits. Like last year in the blowout exchange between Red Bull and Mercedes. The Red Bull was tall in the back, the Mercedes low. Red Bull was a compact car, one of the longest Mercedes in the field. Red Bull knew the turns, Mercedes knew the straight.
Top speed forces Ferrari to compromise
And now? The title race of 2022 is also a fight with unequal weapons, which neutralize each other in its properties. Red Bull has transformed an old weakness into great strength. The RB18 is by far the fastest car on the straights. But Ferrari is better in the corners. Fast and slow. Efficiency meets stable downforce in all situations. “Ferrari’s great strength is its good driving characteristics,” admits Red Bull Technical Director Adrian Newey.
However, this scheme can be softened depending on the circuit. In Miami, Ferrari was only one step ahead of the Red Bull in the high-speed corners, sometimes even losing time in the slow pass between corners 11 and 16. That’s because the Ferrari tires got too hot. With its exceptional top speed, Red Bull forced Ferrari into a setup where Ferrari had to sacrifice some of its strengths.
In the first five races, Red Bull had three times the cards in terms of track layout. In Jeddah, Imola and Miami, the opponent’s better top speed was a bargaining chip Ferrari had to keep an eye on. Ferrari relied on lap times and tires quickly appearing in their work window. It almost worked in Jeddah, but failed in Imola and Miami. The soft tire compounds on the Ferrari melted too quickly. This gave Red Bull the opportunity to enter the DRS window and take the lead.
Red Bull understands bouncing better
The Red Bull RB18 generates more downforce through the undercarriage than any other car in the field. This allows the use of smaller sashes. The Ferrari rode the horse the other way around. The car’s geometry is designed to make the most of the fenders and rear brake openings. And stable pressure thanks to the high ground clearance.
Red Bull can afford to go their own way as they are the only team to understand the bounce. It is, but minimal and it doesn’t bother you. That’s why Red Bull goes very low in the high-speed sections. You can see it in flying sparks. It also reduces air resistance. Ferrari has a lower limit when it comes to vehicle height. Then the kickback starts to disturb the drivers too much. However, you can live with a certain amount of swaying. When drivers brake or turn, it suddenly disappears. Good aerodynamic stability allows this comfort.
Bouncing is still an asset to Red Bull. Adrian Newey and his team can further develop their car without worrying that the shot will rebound and you will suddenly run into problems like those that Mercedes currently has. Ferrari has this concern. Therefore, engineers are reluctant to engage in the arms race. They wanted to know more about this phenomenon before making any major interventions on the vehicle.
Engine advantage for Ferrari
The good character of a Ferrari means that red cars are always set relatively quickly on the track. It never happens that a Ferrari gets completely wrong with the setup. Often times, it takes Red Bull all day to drive the cars into a window that is functioning optimally.
Actually Ferrari should have better cards when it comes to tire wear and traction reduction. It was the same in Bahrain and Melbourne. But because Red Bull is so fast on the straights, Ferrari can’t always drive the way you want. To take the first row, you need tires that heat up quickly. Defense is easier than attacking a car that is flying straight.
Ferrari will continue to rely on its concept as the powerful engine absorbs some of the unfavorable top speed. Measurements by Red Bull and Mercedes showed that the Ferrari engine is now four kilowatts (5.4 hp) ahead of the Honda V6 and eight kilowatts (10.8 hp) ahead of Mercedes. It may increase. First, Ferrari still has a revision of the hybrid system up its sleeve that can deliver more power for longer periods. Second, there was some room for maneuver in spark overtaking due to reliability concerns. That could surely provide another jump later in the year.
Libra is a wild card for Red Bull
In terms of overall stability, Ferrari clearly leads the way. So far, there has been no defect in the world championship leader. On the other hand, all six drivers with Ferrari engines are already driving the second unit. Ferrari may have improved due to a reliability issue. The first locomotives are reserved for Friday in the future. Verstappen continues to drive with its first power unit, the Perez with the first engine, but with a second turbocharger and a second MGU-H. In the case of Leclerc, Sainz and Perez, using a fourth engine will likely be penalized.
Red Bull scored the biggest joker in terms of vehicle weight. Neither of the two leading cars reached a minimum weight of 798 kilograms at the start of the season, but the Ferrari were seven to eight kilograms closer, according to Red Bull. It’s three tenths. Red Bull has fully trained the bacon. Another five kilos were saved for the Spanish GP. It’s close to the border.
But Ferrari has a slight lead in the wind tunnel until June 30. Third in the 2021 season, Ferrari can use 80 percent of the wind tunnel usage and CFD testing limits, while Red Bull only 75 percent. With World Cup status on June 30, it will be decided who will be able to use their tools five percent more often for the rest of the year.
Drivers are tied. Charles Leclerc rides at eye level with Max Verstappen. He takes quick laps in qualifying at the push of a button, lowered his error rate and improved tire management, and is just as cheated in duels as his rival. That’s why Verstappen, unlike last year, doesn’t play games with track restrictions. He knows Leclerc will reply with the same coin. Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez are also neutralizing at the moment. In terms of speed and failure.