R enault team boss Cyril Abiteboul curses the third sector and the tires. “The teams spend millions on upgrades, and then the tires are out of the window and just slide around. It's the purest lottery. ”
Renault was not an isolated case. On the first day of training in Paul Ricard, the game from Barcelona was repeated. Mercedes depends on the competition in the third track sector. The Silver Arrows are three tenths faster than Ferrari, six tenths than McLaren and Red Bull, eight tenths than Haas and Alfa Romeo and nine tenths than Renault.
Opponents of Mercedes are fighting with grainy tires
When Ferrari, Red Bull and Co. arrive in the third section of the route, the surface of the tires is already too hot and the coat too cold. Then, with the softest tire compound, the rubber will peel off the tread. This is called grains. Mainly the front tire is affected.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto speaks of a vicious circle: “In the first two sectors the tires wear so much that there is less rubber on them. That means less temperature inside the tire. This causes the car to slide more, you lose even more rubber and the temperature goes down even further. The understeer is getting worse. “
Understeer takes a massive amount of time in the six corners of the last sector. Some teams tried to solve the dilemma in an emergency by protecting the front tires. But what on the other hand costs traction. It's the choice between plague and cholera.
Red Bull sports director Helmut Marko scoffs: “The others are now also noticing what we've been saying for a long time. We are fully in the hands of Pirelli. I asked Giovinazzi what upgrades the Alfa Romeo has that he hassuddenly is so fast. He told me that he was only fast because he accidentally hit the tire window. ”
New asphalt provokes slipping
Pirelli sports director Mario Isola gives the new asphalt patch in the first sector a partial debt. “The surface is particularly smooth there. This means that the cars slide more. And that drives the surface temperature up. If you arrive in the third sector with tires that are too hot, you have a problem. ”
The soft tires are mainly affected. The harder mixtures are much more stable. “It makes it easier for us to keep the tires in the window. That's why we look much better on the long runs, 'explains Abiteboul.
Only one team doesn't have these problems. Mercedes keeps the tires in their work window for the entire lap. And thus has neither understeer nor oversteer in the third sector. The price question is: What does Mercedes do differently?
The car certainly has more downforce than the assembled competition. But is that all? Obviously, the car also generates better mechanical grip and always keeps the tire temperatures in the window with a sophisticated rim heater.
For example, you can hear that Mercedes drives with less camber than the opponents. You have to be able to afford that. The opponents almost all go to the limit of what Pirelli claims. In order to heat up the tires faster. Disadvantage: This reduces the contact area of the tire with the road.