The tifosi pressure will be at its height at Monza. On Ferrari land, will Charles Leclerc be able to replace Max Verstappen that nothing seems to be able to stop?
WILL FERRARI SATISFY TIFOS?
It has been five Grands Prix since Ferrari, who are 135 points behind Red Bull, have not won a single race. Although the Scuderia missed out on good positions in Hungary and the Netherlands, they had the right pace to qualify well (a deficit of only 0.044 at Hungaröring and 0.021 at Zandvoort). Apart from Business, where Red Bull and Max Verstappen were at the top of the fight, the F1-75 remains capable of delivering good lap times.
On the other hand, his race pace has not been stable for three races, the chassis tending to damage his rear tires (while in Austria, Charles Leclerc won thanks to better ball management). This weakness appeared, so to speak, after the French Grand Prix, where Maranello introduced a new flat bottom. Is this a bad development trend, or is the team failing to get the most out of their machine?
“Honestly, I don’t know, agrees Mattia Binotto. We need to analyze this more closely. Is the car itself not fast enough? Has its balance become more complex and delicate? Maybe this allows you to complete a fast lap but it doesn’t give you the confidence needed throughout the race…”
“In short, I don’t know the answer, but we will analyze the statistics of the race [disputée en Hollande], because we have to react. Our intention is to continue winning races, including Monza. This race is very important for us and for tifosi, who suffered during Covid.
Other reasons are possible. Even if Ferrari claims otherwise, the technical directive n° 39 which limits the car’s revolutions may have forced the Italian engineers to modify the F1-75 in a different way (by raising the front end and strengthening the shock absorbers), thus disturbing the balance (by few races, Leclerc and Sainz have been complaining about the balance of their mount, while praising its stability at the start of the season).
It is also said that Ferrari will not be able to use its engine at full power since the introduction of the “new” evolution (which is basically only about reliability, less engine freeze). Can use it for a few laps but not for the whole Grand Prix… Finally, another possible explanation: Maranello’s poor development. The Scuderia is growing its one-seater below its British rivals, as if it has already reached the budget ceiling. Are they expensive, ineffective methods…?
In any case, the years may pass, and the regulations follow, the pressure that Ferrari goes through during the Italian Grand Prix remains as intense as ever, even for such a calm man from Binotto. However, in the last five rounds, Mercedes has scored 31 points more than Ferrari, and not only thanks to better reliability…
RUSSELL, MERCEDES’ NEW QUIET SQUAD?
This is a surprising figure, but it is a sign of the consistency of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. When he finished, the young Englishman always finished in the top five.
The attitude of the two Mercedes drivers to the vagaries of the Dutch race is interesting. When the seven-time World Champion criticized his team for their strategy, Russell defied orders and went back to change his rubbers. If this maneuver allowed him to give up second place to Max Verstappen, it allowed him to wear soft tires that allowed him to overtake his teammate and take second place.
The difference in the track record, and of course in the behavior, can explain this difference (the big one also tends to criticize the choices of his strategists, even when these turn out to have led a posteriori). Still, Hamilton had the grace to publicly apologize for his remarks.
If the W13 seems easier on the more demanding tracks (Hungary, Netherlands), what will it be like at Monza, after a very difficult weekend in Belgium? At the rear, it will be important to closely follow the performance of Alpine and Williams, whose low drag allows them to be very fast in a straight line in general. Their competition, however, will depend on the effectiveness of their Monza-specific package.
SCHUMACHER GOING OUT?
After a season and a half in Formula 1, Mick Schumacher’s performances were not very convincing. The German is certainly capable of some good strokes (scores in England and Austria, good qualifying in the Netherlands), but he lacks consistency according to Guenther Steiner, who is unsure whether to keep him next season.
However, there are a few buckets available elsewhere. Despite the public support of Esteban Ocon, he does not seem to be in the Alpine race (which is aimed at Pierre Gasly, and he is considering an F2 driver. Felipe Drugovich, Brazil to be Renault’s biggest market), nor to AlphaTauri. Which leaves only Williams as an alternative to Haas.
Is he the best choice for either of these two teams? If Daniel Ricciardo is still in the game, Schumacher is not. Alternatively, he could appeal to Williams with his name (which could attract sponsors), his experience (compared to a rookie like Nyck de Vries, who is supported by Mercedes, however) and his knowledge of the 2022 machinery (compared to Nico Hülkenberg. , which would have appealed to Steiner). If he wants to stay on the grid next year, he has to repeat the good results.