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Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP

F1 sprint race format prompts Ferrari to avoid Imola upgrades

Ferrari will steer clear of bringing major updates to its Formula 1 car for the next race in Imola, thanks to complications caused by it being a sprint race weekend.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

So far this season, due to the impact of the cost cap and logistical challenge of the first flyaway races, none of the top teams have introduced any major development steps for their new cars.

However, the start of the European season at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix should in theory offer the perfect chance to introduce the first major changes.

But while the potential is there for big performance gains to be made because of improvements, the decision by F1 to have the first sprint race weekend at Imola has impacted Ferrari’s timelines for updates.

It believes that with just one single hour of practice taking place prior to Friday’s first qualifying session there is not enough time to evaluate any new major parts and get the cars perfectly set-up for the rest of the weekend.

Instead, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says major upgrades will wait for subsequent races, as the team instead wants to concentrate on eradicating the kind of porpoising behaviour it encountered in Australia last weekend.

Asked by Autosport about its upgrade plan for Imola as it was a sprint weekend, Binotto said: “I think it will be a difficult weekend in respect of bringing updates and trying to evaluate them in the Friday practice, because you need obviously to focus yourself on the quali of the afternoon.

“If we will look at ourselves, there will not be much in Imola because again, we believe it will not be the right place.

“But we will try to mitigate the issues we have got still so far. I'm thinking of the porpoising and the bouncing that has affected our performance over the weekend.

“So we again try to work on that specific point. But, for the upgrades and more, let me say significant ones, it will be for later on in the season.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Ferrari has opened up a comfortable lead in both championships so far, thanks to Charles Leclerc’s victories in Bahrain and Australia.

And while the team had hoped that it could deliver a step forward in form for 2022, Binotto admits that things have gone better than he anticipated.

“I’m certainly surprised,” he said. “I think we worked hard and we put a lot of priority on to 2022. I knew that the team was a great team and we somehow improved ourselves compared to the past seasons.

“I was hoping to have a competitive car for the start of season, but certainly I was not expecting such a good start to the season. I think it would be unfair to think that.

“But I still believe that the difference between us and the others can be very little. I think the past races have proved it, and will be a great fight in the next races certainly.”

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Although Ferrari’s wins in Bahrain and Australia have been helped by Max Verstappen retiring, at both events the Italian team was quicker than Red Bull.

In the season opener, Ferrari’s improved tyre management proved key, while in Australia, Binotto reckons that the F1-75 was simply better balanced than anyone else as he downplayed the impact of his team’s higher downforce preference.

“I think that having a well-balanced car was a key element in the view of tyre management, and the drivers managed well,” he explained. “I think Charles did a pretty good job in that.

“I don't think that the downforce level was an element because, if I look at the speed on the straights, if I look at our direct competitors, I think that finally they ran a higher downforce level compared to what they had, for example, in Jeddah, and they were a lot closer to us.”

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