As the Formula 1 Season rolls on, the narrative set at the start of the season shows no sign of abating. While Mercedes continue to struggle and Lewis Hamilton seethes, Ferrari’s return to title-contending form continues as they battle it out with Red Bull at the top of both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships.
However, having led early in the season, Ferrari lead driver Charles Leclerc has been overtaken by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, after the world champion won the last three races. This means Ferrari and LeClerc need to respond fast to stay in the running and prevent what had started as an exciting battle becoming a procession.
Much, therefore, will depend on the various upgrades and adjustments the technical teams make and this is where the skills of a precision engineering company can make or break a team’s challenge. As Mercedes have shown this year, even the most skilled and successful outfits can run into difficulties and find resolving them a struggle.
According to Motor Sport Magazine columnist Mark Hughes, the latest changes Ferrari are making amount to a major gamble that could backfire.
Writing ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, he said the key to Ferrari’s string start in 2022 was having “an effective car it understood very well, with a nice wide sweet spot, a driveable balance and solid reliability.” Moreover, porpoising only affected it at the fastest points of the longest straits.
The problem, he noted, is that Red Bull’s updates have eroded the advantage away, giving Ferrari no choice but to try to up its game. However, since this year has brought the twin perils of lower budgets and porpoising, getting that balance right is hard and there is a danger Ferrari’s work could actually lower performance.
With Barcelona providing another victory for Verstappen and a Red Bull 1-2 while LeClerc failed to finish, it may be Ferrari’s efforts will turn out to be in vain. But at least in taking a gamble they have done their best to try to make the rest of the season something other than a Red Bull romp.