E s could have been a double podium for Red Bull in Sao Paulo. A win and a third place. Instead, Max Verstappen crossed the finish line in second and Daniel Ricciardo in fourth. Verstappen failed because of Esteban Ocon. Ricciardo on a penalty that relegated him to eleventh place on the grid and a Kimi Räikkönen who concreted over the overtaking areas in his Ferrari in the final laps.
Red Bull can comfort itself about the missed victory with the best racing car. Verstappen and Ricciardo overran the Mercedes and Ferrari - although Interlagos is one of the engine tracks on the racing calendar. You could tell in the qualification. As soon as Mercedes and Ferrari set the sharpest power modes, they galloped the Red Bull away on the straights. The Renault C specification engine lacks a similar qualification mode. In the race, however, the competitors have to reduce their performance. Which is part of the explanation for the fact that Red Bull was a candidate for victory.
Past Ferrari and Mercedes
Several factors came together: the increased track temperature: the setup, the aerodynamic Configuration, tire management, opponents' problems. For the first time on the race weekend, the sun heated the asphalt to over 40 degrees. The engineers trimmed the two RB14s precisely for these conditions. They rely on downforce instead of top speed.
A bigger wing helped to keep the rear tires in good condition. In any case, the dark blue car handles the tires more carefully than any other car in the field. Verstappen lasted 35 laps on the super soft tires. Then they switched to soft for tactical reasons. Ricciardo even circled the course 39 times with the softest glue. As often as otherwise only Sergio Perez in Force India. 'Setup, balance and strategy were perfect today,' said Verstappen.
The Flying Dutchman overtook both Ferrari and both Mercedes. Ricciardo the Mercedes from Bottas and Vettel in the Ferrari. It is a rarity in modern Formula 1 that one top car overtakes the other two top cars so often in a race. Red Bull was strong as a bear, Mercedes and Ferrari were wounded. Vettel struggled with the balance and the tire temperatures. Hamilton tortured himself with blown tires and a choked engine. “And he got off the last corner badly. So it was no problem for Max to overtake him, ”reported Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko.
Favorite spot Senna-S
A good comparison between Red Bull and Mercedes emerges between the 45th and 71st lap of the race. After the collision with Ocon, Verstappen's car was missing a large part of the underbody. According to the Red Bull engineers, that meant ten percent less contact pressure. Hamilton drove on the back burner and therefore lost four tenths per lap.
Two battered cars, a clear picture: Verstappen was faster than Hamilton in 23 of the 27 laps to the finish. He undercut the 1:12 mark ten times. Hamilton, on the other hand, only scored three rounds in the 1:11 range. “Verstappen wasn't our opponent today. Red Bull was way too fast for that. We had to look to Ferrari and make sure we land in front of them. To defend against Verstappen would have made no sense, 'said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
Ricciardo's performance confirmed Red Bull's superiority. In the starting phase he grabbed the cars of Kevin Magnussen, Marcus Ericsson, Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean and Charles Leclerc one after the other. After five laps the Australian was already sixth. He even led the race between laps 36 and 39. And with the advantage of soft tires, he later attacked Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. Both times in Senna-S.
The big Mercedes opponent 2019?
Ricciardo steered past Vettel on the outside lane. “We had a cool fight and I think we touched one or two times. We respect each other, drive fairly and know our limits. That's why it didn't crash. ”Ricciardo answered Vettel's counterattack on the back straight by walling up the inside lane.
The man from Perth stabbed Bottas in the Senna-S on the inside. A typical Ricciardo. 'I announced to the team on the radio that I would risk it.' Only for Raikkonen it was no longer enough. “I'm happy with my race, but I would have liked to have tasted champagne. I have the feeling that the car always runs wonderfully when a starting place penalty is imposed on me. '
Red Bull is slowly becoming the big opponent of Mercedes for 2019. Not only does new partner Honda need more Finding performance, but also developing more constant. Red Bull will not be able to afford a dent in form like before the summer break in 2019 against Mercedes. But since Singapore, the aero problems have been resolved. And the RB14 has been the fastest car in the race since Austin.