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Upgrade not to blame for bankruptcy: what was wrong with Ferrari?

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D he big upgrade festival in Barcelona has improved the balance of power in Formula 1 has not changed much. Except that Ferrari fell behind Mercedes by half a second and could already feel Williams' breath. Otherwise everyone has neutralized each other. Nobody made big leaps forward, nobody slipped dramatically.

The large gap between Ferrari and Mercedes raises many questions. Hadn't Ferrari brought the biggest upgrade of any team to Spain? Then why do the red cars lose 0.777 seconds on Nico Rosberg's pole position in practice?

And why is Sebastian Vettel 45.342 seconds behind the winner after 66 laps? This corresponds to a deficit of 0.687 seconds. So not much better than in training. Although Ferrari's strength in the first 4 Grand Prix was clearly in the race. That also seemed to have been lost in Barcelona.

Sepang cannot be compared to Barcelona.

The qualification is a bad yardstick. Mercedes was always clearly ahead. Especially in gusty winds like the one in Barcelona on Saturday. The Ferrari doesn't like that at all. The advantage of the Silver Arrows in training only shrank once: in the rain in Malaysia.

The race paints a clearer picture. And that's where Mercedes felt the pressure from Ferrari since the Malaysia GP. In Barcelona, ​​however, Vettel had absolutely no chance. The average gap between Mercedes and Ferrari over the race distance was 8.080 seconds in the first 4 Grand Prix. This time it was five and a half times as big.

And that on a racetrack that looks very similar to Sepang at first glance. It was almost as hot as in Malaysia, the Grand Prix won by Vettel and Ferrari. Fast corners, high stress on the tires, hot weather: what went wrong this time?

On closer inspection, the comparison lags. The road surface in Malaysia is much rougher. There are no recovery phases following the fast corners. And sector three of Barcelona with seven corners in a row, five of them under 120 km /h, does not exist in Sepang. 'Malaysia eats the tires. In Barcelona we have another problem. They are getting too hot,' explained Vettel.

Ferrari upgrade made car faster

That would suggest that Ferrari with its expansion stage missed, while Mercedes hit the bull's eyelanded. But the direct comparison between the new and old aero package at Ferrari resulted in an advantage of 0.222 seconds per lap for the retreaded Ferrari. That corresponds roughly to what Mercedes expects from its facelift on paper and has obviously also implemented.

The Mercedes drivers are now allowed to drive the first engine 100 kilometers longer than originally planned in power mode. This relates to the entire service life of 5,000 kilometers. However, winner Rosberg never needed the power mode. And Niki Lauda is convinced that Ferrari is on par in terms of engine performance. If there was a difference in the area of ​​the new developments in the overall package, then it was no more than a tenth.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also attached little importance to the development stages of the cars. 'The Barcelona route changes from minute to minute. That's why you look for the best compromise when you set it up. If it fits, you put the tires in your working window. And they are the key in Barcelona.'

Another advantage: Rosberg had found this greatest common denominator in setup right from the first training session. Even Hamilton couldn't keep up. Ferrari poked around in the forest for a long time with his converted SF15-T. Vettel didn't say for nothing: 'Maybe we need a few races to get the most out of the package.'

Of course, it helps if the car was born with a lot of downforce. Like the Mercedes AMG W06. The secret of the last section of the track, in which Mercedes lost 0.462 seconds from its opponent, also lies in good mechanical grip. 'Our car steers in and immediately bites in the front without the rear rolling,' reveals Wolff.

An engineer adds: 'We can drive more consistently there. Every now and then Ferrari brings a good one Lap. But it is obviously more difficult for the drivers to position the car precisely for the many corners. This would be suggested by the fact that Ferrari only lost 0.360 seconds to Mercedes' top time in its best sector 3 time.

Barcelona as painted for Mercedes

The Barcelona circuit is as painted for Mercedes. No car generates more downforce. This was shown by the lap times on the harder of the two types of tire. Only Mercedes brought temperature to the concrete mix. And only Mercedes was able to limit slipping in the first two sections of the track so that the tires didn't get too hot for the seven corners at the end of the lap. With asphalt temperatures of up to 50 degrees, this quality weighed all the more in the end.

Vettel only lost three tenths in his qualifying round in the first two sectors. The downforce of the Ferrari can't be that bad. Everything changed at the braking point of Turn 10. 'I get there and suddenly there is no more grip. I am for the rest of the lapjust slipped. And so it was all except for Rosberg. 'Even Hamilton. But it was his own fault on the decisive lap. He overdid it in two corners. And the surface temperature of the tires soared.

Im Basically, not much has changed in Barcelona since the test drives. In the winter the gap was only 0.484 seconds, but only because Ferrari drove its fastest lap on super soft rubber and Mercedes with the 'Soft' compound.

This leads to the conclusion that Ferrari has not lost to Mercedes, but that Barcelona is simply a Mercedes track that Ferrari cannot cope with. Neither in winter nor now. Sector 3 may tell the real story. A section 1.6 km long, peppered with curves and only 400 meters straight at the end.

Gasoline flow trick just a conspiracy theory?

With the opponents of Ferrari, conspiracy theories had Hoc heconomy. They believe Ferrari had to give up the engine. Because the FIA ​​has recently been measuring the fuel pressure between the flow rate sensor and the high-pressure injection pump.

This is to prevent gasoline from being stored in a bubble after measuring the flow rate in the half-gas phases so that the To feed extra fuel into the gasoline flow and thus outsmart the limit of 100 kilograms per hour.

This trick would bring time, especially in sector 3. The renunciation of it accordingly explains Ferraris high losses in this section of the route. According to the analysts' projection. But then Ferrari should have been closer to Mercedes in the first four races in the winding sectors. According to the suspicion of the rivals, the Reds are said to have driven with the gasoline trick.

The reality is different. Ferrari lost disproportionately to Mercedes in all winding sectors. In Melbourne 0.520 of 1.430 seconds. That was still gracious with 36.4 percent of the total loss. In Sepang on a dry track, more time was lost in Sector 2 than in the entire lap. Exactly 104.4 percent. Vettel made up time on the Silver Arrows in the other two sections of the route.

In China, the most winding passage (Sector 2) made up 50.2 percent, in Bahrain (Sector 2) even 67.6 percent . Barcelona was almost gracious with a share of 59.5 percent for sector 3. The problem at the Circuit de Catalunya: The other two sectors did not allow Ferrari to make up for lost time.

The real picture of where Ferrari stands compared to Mercedes after the great arms race will only come after the next three Know races. Because Monte Carlo, Montreal and the Red Bull Ring have their very own characteristics. Ferrari has to show its flag if Mercedes is to be challenged further. And then in Silverstone it saysthe next upgrade round.

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