Ferrari is slowly getting back on track after the bankruptcies in Spa and Zandvoort. Charles Leclerc was able to keep up with the pace of the Red Bull in the rain and on a dry surface. But only for a maximum of 20 rounds. Then the front tires overheated.
It's the biggest mystery of the season. Up until the summer break, the Ferrari F1-75 was a car that could win anywhere. Since then he has only preserved his speed, but not his stamina. Charles Leclerc continues to collect pole position after pole position, but the runner-up in the world championship can no longer hold the position in the race. The tires almost always wear out. You get too hot. Depending on how the car is balanced, it sometimes hits the front tires and sometimes the rear tires. In Singapore front.
After all, it took longer than at the last Grands Prix for Red Bull to play to its advantage in the street race. On the intermediates, Sergio Perez's lead climbed past the two-second mark for the first time on lap 19. The delta increased to a maximum of 4.3 seconds, with two VSC phases always allowing the tires some recovery.
On slicks, Perez slowly lost sight of his tail on lap 52. After 17 laps running time for the medium soles. In the end, the winner had a lead of 7.5 seconds, and not because his pursuer gave up. Leclerc did everything he could to avoid falling back more than five seconds because of the impending penalty for Perez.
Red Bull faster after seven laps
Leclerc partly blamed the tire problems on the leader's constant tailing in the turbulence. "If I stayed close for too long, the front tires overheated and I had to back off a bit." The three-time winner of the season also stated: "In a direct comparison, we are faster in the first six to seven laps and Red Bull after that. We have to find an explanation for that."
Team boss Mattia Binotto tried to see the positive. "We were quick on intermediates and on slicks. Singapore showed that we have corrected our weaknesses at Spa and Zandvoort. That's why we're disappointed that we weren't able to win." That's certainly true for one round. In the fight for pole position, Leclerc is the measure of all things.
Even though Red Bull stated that Max Verstappen could have gone half a second faster if qualifying had been trouble-free. Leclerc also had reserves at his best time. His ideal time was three tenths under his fastest lap.
What role does the underbody rule play?
Nevertheless, the Red Bull is a well-rounded package. Head of Sport Helmut Marko attributes this to the fact that over the course of the season you have lost more than ten kilograms and have understood your car better and better. "This has increased the working window and made the car more drivable. The weight is now better distributed.It's easier for us to set up the car." Binotto agrees: "Red Bull finds a good balance faster."
Mercedes believes that the stricter rules for the underbody that have been in force since Spa have something to do with the balance of power that has become more one-sided "It hit Ferrari harder than Red Bull." According to this theory, Ferrari must therefore drive higher and adjust its chassis differently than before, which sometimes hurts more or less depending on the race track, always depending on how far the protection of the ground Ferrari is drives its optimal working window. Ferrari sees no connection to the FIA directive. It could give the impression that one had previously been fishing in gray areas.
The left lane was wetter
Ferrari might have been able to win in Singapore if Leclerc didn't mess up the start and the undercut would have worked when switching to slicks." The start decided the rest of the race. If we take the lead, we'll be in a better position for the rest of the race and not on the defensive," Binotto believes. Leclerc obviously didn't do anything wrong. The reaction time was good, all procedures were followed. "The left side of the home straight was slippery than the one on the right", Binotto apologized to his driver.
The undercut when switching to slicks didn't work despite a delta of just 2.6 seconds in favor of Perez. Leclerc was 5.3 seconds down at the pit stop, Perez 2.5 seconds less. It's the driver's fault. Leclerc overshot his parking position. And the advantage of the earlier lap was none because you lost too much time on the first lap on slicks compared to your colleagues on used intermediates.
A test for 2023
Neither the driver nor the team responded to the mishap in the pit lane. Just don't open up old wounds again, Ferrari make too many operational mistakes. Binotto feels he is being treated one-sidedly and refers to Red Bull's fuel breakdown in qualifying: "If we that happens, we will be crucified. At Red Bull it's a mistake that's allowed to happen."
At least the drivers reveal that Ferrari is already on course for 2023. "We want to use the last six races to improve in the executive of the races. The race in Singapore felt like progress," Leclerc said Management and drivers If it now comes out that Red Bull is said to have exceeded the 2021 budget, then that would be political tailwind for Ferrari to the company management in Turin No matter how high the additional effort, you would have a good explanation as to why the opponent is still one small step ahead.