Ex-F1 driver explains why Ferrari’s customer teams have made a ‘big jump’ this year

Formula 1 will race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia this weekend for round two of the 2022 season.

Former Formula 1 driver Marc Surer is uncertain which team will have the pace advantage heading into the second round of the 2022 season in Saudi Arabia, but notes that Ferrari have extinguished the power disparity between themselves and the previous leading pair of Honda and Mercedes.

Ferrari walked away from the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend with a 1-2 finish through Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, as Red Bull suffered a reliability-induced double retirement and Mercedes struggled for performance all weekend.

It followed pre-season testing in Barcelona and Sakhir; while Bahrain features slightly more straight sections than the circuit in Spain, neither track require as much engine performance as the 6.1 kilometre Jeddah Corniche Circuit, which has plenty of long, flat-out sections.

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It will be a divergent challenge to what the drivers have faced since February, and thus Surer cannot pinpoint which car he expects the track will suit best this weekend.

“It’s difficult to judge who will be fast in Saudi Arabia because it’s a completely different circuit with long straights,” he told Formula1News.co.uk.

“Looking at the straights in Bahrain, Red Bull was one of the fastest. They obviously didn’t have enough downforce in the slower sections so I think it depends which car works well with low downforce and we have no experience with that.

“But looking at Barcelona, which has a long straight and fast corners, the Ferrari worked on both tracks, Red Bull not so much, Mercedes neither, so it sounds [like] it will be again between Ferrari and Red Bull.”

All six of the bottom cars in the final classification in Sakhir were Mercedes powered as McLaren and Aston Martin’s seasons got off to an abysmal start.

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While the Ferrari-powered teams appeared to have the edge, Surer doesn’t agree that they have built a better power unit than Honda or Mercedes.

“I don’t agree that Ferrari has the strongest engine, I think they are up on the [same] level as Honda and Mercedes,” he added.

“I hear from the customer teams that they found 25 horsepower and that’s what they were missing last year, so now they are on the same level. And remember last year they improved the hybrid and it was a big step for Ferrari.”

The 70-year-old also acknowledges that the enhancement of the pace of Haas and Alfa Romeo – Ferrari’s customers – is a legacy of receiving the updated hybrid system this year rather than at last year’s Russian Grand Prix, when Ferrari introduced it.

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“The customer teams did not have that; now they have the new hybrid and the stronger engine so that’s why they made a big jump as well,” Surer stressed.

Ferrari and Red Bull looked substantially faster than Mercedes in Bahrain, but it remains to be seen if this pecking order will stay the same in Jeddah this weekend.

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