Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP

Why Ferrari is not getting carried away with Baku F1 last stint promise

Ferrari says it is not reading much into Charles Leclerc’s ability to match the pace of the Red Bulls in the closing stages of Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

The Italian outfit knows that its current weakness against Red Bull is in managing tyres over a race stint, with there being little to separate the two teams in single-lap qualifying form.

Despite making a breakthrough in unlocking better race pace in Australia, and grabbing pole position for Baku’s sprint and grand prix, the team was still no match for Red Bull over long runs last weekend.

However, it was a late surge from Leclerc in the grand prix, who was able to deliver the same pace as the runaway Red Bulls in the closing stages as he defended against Fernando Alonso, that raised some eyebrows.

This was something that even Max Verstappen spotted as he questioned Leclerc about it in the pre-podium driver room after the race.

A few laps from home Leclerc even put in the fastest lap of the race up until that point, showing that there was plenty of potential left in his tyres.

Although that late speed has prompted suggestions that Ferrari may be better off on its rubber than feared, team boss Fred Vasseur thinks the picture in Baku was blurred by tyre management tactics. 

He thinks that, as Leclerc carefully managed tyres early after the safety car stop so they had more performance late on, Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Verstappen pushed their rubber past their best by running flat out.

“If you look at the last stint of the race, I am not sure that Red Bull was not planning to do two [stops] as they were pushing like hell from the beginning to the end,” said Vasseur. 

“But when we were convinced at the beginning that we’d do one stint, and we’d manage a lot at the beginning, it meant we really had a tyre advantage at the end. Overall they were faster than us, and we don’t have to bullshit ourselves.” 

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Leclerc said he had deliberately taken things easy after the pitstop during the safety car period to better look after tyres, having paid the price for pushing too hard in the sprint when he tried to chase down eventual winner Sergio Perez.

“We have to [look after the tyres] with our car, otherwise we kill them, and then we cannot get them back," he explained. "This has a big influence on our performance. I think we did the perfect management but we are just not quick enough.

"Whether we lack at the beginning of the stint, or at the end of the stint, this we can change but we just don't have enough performance for now.”

Read Also:

The fact that the Ferrari is so quick over a single lap, but struggles to match Red Bull in races, suggests that the SF-23’s issues are more set-up approach that aerodynamic. 

Asked by Autosport if the weekend had confirmed Ferrari’s biggest issues were mechanical, Vasseur said: “To understand if it is coming from mechanical or aero is another story. 

“I think what is obvious so far, is that we are struggling with consistency, and it is a bit true this weekend. But all over the lap and all over the corners and all over the race the car was much more consistent this weekend and we are going in the right direction.”

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article How Perez profited in Baku to lay down his F1 title fight credentials
Next article Newey agrees contract extension with Red Bull F1 team

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe