Ferrari clearly leads the Constructors' Championship after two races. Despite Max Verstappen's victory in Jeddah, Scuderia is the team of the hour. Not just because the F1-75 is the best all-rounder. The team did everything right beforehand.
On the track, it's a neck-and-neck race between Ferrari and Red Bull. Charles Leclerc came out on top once, then Max Verstappen. Once Charles Leclerc was on pole position, then Sergio Perez. Smells like balance. In fact, there is not much between the two best cars in the field. And yet Ferrari has the edge. The numbers prove that.
Ferrari has taken 78 points from two races, Red Bull only 37. Ferrari has accumulated four podium finishes, Red Bull only one. Both fastest race laps went to Ferrari. Plus 87 leadership laps. Red Bull drivers only led the race for 20 laps.
Ferrari is always fast. By day, by night, on the C1, C2, C3 and C4 tires. And if you have to do without long runs like in Jeddah on Friday because both drivers hit the wall, you're still fighting for victory on Sunday.
Ferrari's territory is the curves
Perhaps the overzealousness of the drivers cost Ferrari its second victory. In the absence of data, Ferrari assumed a higher tire usage and trimmed its cars for a lot of downforce. Red Bull took some contact pressure off. On Sunday, top speed was better than downforce. The hard tires lasted forever. Leclerc could still have won the race. A yellow flag stopped his last attack.
Roughly speaking, regardless of the respective vehicle set-up, two cars meet each other that reach their destination with different means. The Red Bull RB18 makes its time on the straights, the Ferrari F1-75 on the corners. Red Bull can afford smaller wings, which suggests that Adrian Newey and his design team have once again managed to efficiently generate more downforce through the underbody than anyone else in the field.
The Ferrari has a different quality. It's also fast with more ground clearance and more travel. This speaks for excellent aerodynamic stability. Trackside observers swear the Ferrari is better at cornering at slow speeds and beating its opponents with superior traction. The drive also helps here. According to the opponents, the Ferrari engine not only has the most power, but also the best torque.
Ferrari knows their car
When asked in Jeddah whether Red Bull made a step forward, Max Verstappen said it was difficult for him to judge. "I can only say this much: We understand our car better now."
And that's exactly the secret of Ferrari. No other team knows its car so well. The F1-75 has been driving almost unchanged since the first day of testing in Barcelona.Modifications were only made to the underbody to better control bouncing on the straights.
The Ferrari engineers can build on the data and experience from 3,941 kilometers of testing and two GP weekends. That's why they're so accurate when it comes to setup. The two Ferraris are almost always in the top 5. It doesn't matter whether it's a test drive, free practice session, qualification or race. Red Bull and Mercedes brought two semi-new cars to the Bahrain test. Then the learning started all over again.
Ferrari's strategy can also have a positive effect on the arms race, which starts with the first European race at the latest. If you know your car well, you know what needs to be changed. Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto believes that this can be a game changer with the cost cap on the neck: "It's important not to blow all your powder right away. Every upgrade has to work, otherwise you limit your development."
Chassis group takes risks
Ferrari has been preparing for its return to the top for a long time. The wind tunnel, simulator and test benches were modernized in good time. The chassis department under Enrico Cardile left the development of the 2021 car early on. She was hired in early June. The last upgrades came to the car at Silverstone. Of course, the alliance with Haas is also an advantage. The US racing team started work on the 2022 car in January 2021.
Even if data exchange is forbidden, it is obvious that the engineers give each other tips. Haas had already put his first concept through the wind tunnel in the summer of 2021 and classified it as too little expandable. It was the slim sidepod solution used by Mercedes, McLaren and Williams.
This Ur-Haas was shown to us as a computer animation at the presentation. It is therefore not surprising that Ferrari and its American satellite have switched to the alternative design with wide, long and high sidepods.
After the chassis faction started with rather well-behaved solutions since 2019, the team management issued the motto for the new car: full risk. You can see it in the F1-75. This car stands out from the field because it is completely different and shows many innovative solutions.
A secret lies in the packaging of the drive unit and rear suspension. The narrow and flat air box allows the optimal flow of the rear wing and the perfect support of the diffuser.
Engine development in four portions
Ferrari also backed the right horse when it came to the drive. The engineers divided the development into four parts. In the winter of 2020/2021, the greatest weaknesses in the combustion engine were eliminated. Nevertheless, the gap to Mercedes and Honda last year is said to have been up to 25 hp.In the autumn, the new hybrid system was inaugurated, which feeds in more power over a longer period of time, making drivers less vulnerable on the straights.
The front deployment gave the engine technicians the chance to eliminate any problems in winter. At the same time, a completely new engine, turbocharger and MGU-H were created in Maranello. On paper, 20hp should be lost due to E10 fuel, but Ferrari has been reported to have made a net increase in power compared to , overtaking its rivals. Binotto brakes: "We have made up for our disadvantage on the others, but I think that the four drive units are quite close together."
Ferrari still has one shot left. The hybrid system will not be homologated until September until 2026. And there should be another expansion stage that builds on what has proven itself on the track. Ferrari takes its time with new parts on the car. No significant changes have been announced for Melbourne. Ferrari has the luxury of timing its development roadmap from a position of strength to always be one step ahead.