Ferrari are planning to bring a substantial upgrade to the Spanish Grand Prix that they hope will mitigate the effects that “porpoising” has on the car.
The F1-75 has been more than capable of keeping pace with Red Bull in the opening part of the season, and has looked particularly proficient in the corners, while the Milton Keynes-based side have been almost impervious to the Scuderia’s threat on the straight.
This was particularly prominent at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last time out as Max Verstappen led home Sergio Perez for the team’s first one-two since 2016, and they looked relatively comfortable compared to Ferrari during the race.
This came after they brought an upgrade to the weekend that took 5kg off their car, putting them level with Ferrari on around 808kg, but still 10kg over the limit.
They are said to have gained just over two tenths in lap time as a legacy of it having gambled on a largely untried new element that they had just one wet practice session to integrate fully.
There appeared to be a swing in momentum in the Austrian outfit’s favour as Carlos Sainz was wiped out on the first lap before Charles Leclerc collided with the barrier, but team principal Mattia Binotto does not believe the disparity between the teams was as big as it might have appeared on the Sunday.
“I think the difference between us and Red Bull was minimal. The difference was made by the details,” he explained.
Leclerc’s crash cost him a podium and put him down to an eventual sixth, and the mistake occurred when he was hunting Perez down as well as aiming for the fastest lap.
Binotto suggests that such an effort might have been unnecessary had a few minor contrivances gone their way earlier in the afternoon.
“We need to keep morale high because there have been small episodes that made the difference, I think about Charles’ start and slow pit stop with which we could have stayed ahead of Perez,” he added.
In a bid to counter Red Bull’s impressively efficient changes in Imola, Ferrari are set to make changes to the suspension and sidepod in Spain which will diminish the bouncing they are suffering as a result of the ground effect aerodynamics, and ultimately improve their lap time.
Dr Helmut Marko is optimistic that his Red Bull team can out-develop their Italian counterparts, and believes that they will succumb to the pressure from Milton Keynes.
“I don’t think so,” he stated.
“What we also saw is that we put real pressure on them and they’re making mistakes. You could see that Leclerc span on Friday, twice. [Carlos] Sainz spun [in the race], then Leclerc again.”
However, he emphasised that the relationship between the two teams is a “sportive” and “friendly” one – a real contrast to the toxic rivalry with Mercedes last season.
Ferrari lead Red Bull by 11 points in the Constructors’ Standings after two wins a piece for Leclerc and Verstappen, but poor reliability for the four-time champions has set them back.