|F1 2022 France GP| race analysis:
The Ferrari paradox: far away but convinced to make it
Race results. France GP F1 2022.
Screaming at the wall
The 2022 French Grand Prix leaves this time with more certainties than doubts. The first is that the F1-75 with the latest updates has made a significant qualitative leap on all fronts and is, at the moment, the benchmark from the point of view of performance. The team had prepared the race in a meticulous way, the only ones to understand that the medium compound worked much better than the hard one, and had opted, on Leclerc’s car, for a set-up to protect the front “at all costs”. The first laps were difficult for the Monegasque, with a car that was nervous about oversteer and difficult to control, with Verstappen sticking to him thanks to the DRS. Leclerc had to resist and then gradually find a more neutral car from mid-stint onwards and, at the same time, be able to take advantage of less degradation than his Dutch rival. The Monegasque’s defense had been perfect, as was the alternating rhythm between fast laps and laps to let the tires breathe that ensured control over their deterioration. And finally the advantage was emerging. Vestappen’s tire had started to lose performance before the Ferrari one, and the Dutchman stopped early, looking for the undercut. Ferrari’s plan was to lengthen Leclerc’s stint probably by about 5 laps to take advantage of the tires still in good condition and create a significant tire life “offset” that would likely re-propose a similar situation to what was seen in Austria, with Leclerc returned behind Verstappen but able to pass him on the track thanks to a better condition of the tires.
None of this happened in the end given the error of the red driver, about which there is little to say. The Monegasque made a mistake on his own, as we have already analyzed, probably in the “game” of brake and accelerator to manage the distance and traction of the corner at 11. Perhaps the most incredible part of the accident is that Leclerc ended up on the wall. a track made horrible by the asphalt escape routes and colored stripes placed there on purpose to prevent anyone from reaching the barriers and who, with the gearbox lock, was unable to reverse and return to the pits, with a car without damage definitive, which would have allowed at least to limit the loss of points in the standings (the podium would have been within reach anyway).
The zero, on the other hand, is one of those heavy on the season, which makes the road to the world championship, already partly a climb, a half-mission impossible. We say “half” because Ferrari proved to be the most fit car, with a perfect update program, which, as far as we know, also used the power of the Power Unit sparingly throughout the French weekend. Carlos Sainz’s super race is the direct confirmation of a car that has found great stability, also helping the Spaniard to find the right feeling to drive. Perhaps even the third place would have been within the reach of the Spanish who started nineteenth without the second pit stop, but the call to the pits was due to the risk of loss of structural integrity of the tire, an issue on which the precautionary choice, even if painful, remains understandable in order to avoid the risk of withdrawals and especially of sudden failures that can jeopardize the safety of the pilot.
Unlike Ferrari, Red Bull, after looking for updates to increase aerodynamic load, had to temporarily abandon part of the packs carried because they penalized in terms of balance and aerodynamic stability. Of course, the Austrian team can count on an always superlative Max Verstappen, a driver who, in addition to being incredibly fast and able to handle the tires in all conditions, has become almost ice-cold due to the coldness and calm with which he manages every situation. , without ever making a mistake, without undergoing pressure in any way, with an Olympic calm worthy of those who wear the number 1 on the body. The only moment of the race in which Verstappen lost his temper was when he saw Leclerc’s car on the wall, an image to which he reacted with a dirty word and an almost breathless request about his rival’s condition. Somehow another beautiful page of the battle between the two.
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In general, the French Grand Prix also showed a couple of other technical aspects. The first is that, unlike what was seen with the older generation of cars, the aerodynamic load helps a lot to contain tire wear, but it is not enough on its own. The mechanical set-up continues to be decisive in this too, probably due to two factors: the greater stiffness of the single-seaters on the ground and the height of the lower shoulder of the 18-inch tires, which somewhat limits the lateral deformation of the tires. In fact, we saw that Red Bull was probably slightly inferior to Ferrari in terms of degradation but not in such a “dramatic” way as the large difference in vertical load it would have caused in past seasons. Even the excellent performance of Mercedes, with the W13 lacking precisely from the point of view of the load, confirms that the issue of vertical load continues not to be the only variable in terms of tire wear and degradation.
On the other hand, it is confirmed that the French track, with its smooth asphalt like a billiard table, has been a great help for those cars that suffer from aerodynamic instability and long transitory periods, such as the Mercedes. In this, the new Ferrari bottom with greater energization of the flows and an even greater ability to seal the under-car, should ensure a more visible advantage on tracks with bumps and high curbs.
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Returning to Ferrari, listening to the words of Mattia Binotto at the end of the race, it is difficult not to notice the change of pace in his statements. The Ferrari Team Principal, always sincere in his words with the media, sometimes too much, has “played the charge” in a way that we struggle to remember in recent years. We have gone from the cautious declarations of a few weeks ago, in which the title was spoken of as a possible objective only, to the almost presumptuous ones of Paul Ricard, where Binotto spoke of “10 races to be won”, of a world title absolutely as a goal fixed and even called a double in the next Hungarian Grand Prix in no uncertain terms. Binotto’s words not only seem to confirm our impressions of the red, but if the caution at the beginning of the year was due to the awareness of the Power Unit’s reliability problems, those of this phase of the season seem to be due to the knowledge of update packages for the aerodynamics and above all for the drive units which evidently are extremely promising. In this regard, at least one race with a penalty for changing the Power Unit will probably have to be taken into account in Leclerc’s run-up, making it even more difficult a feat which, however, has become a declared goal by the team as never before. If the comeback can really materialize we will begin to see it immediately, in the next Hungarian Grand Prix, where Ferrari starts with all the odds given the characteristics of the track.
Race results – after the race: France GP F1 2022
Leclerc: “Unacceptable, I can’t make certain mistakes”
That “No!” shouted on the radio perfectly summarizes the mood of Charles Leclerc. His spin on lap 18 of the French Grand Prix threatens to put an end to his world hopes, because now the points behind Max Verstappen are 63, and the Dutchman is an automaton who doesn’t make mistakes. Leclerc presented himself with his head down to the microphones of the journalists, aware that – this time, as in Imola – it is all his fault. There are 32 points that the Monegasque has thrown away for his mistakes, and just as he criticized Ferrari’s strategies in the past, he is now criticizing himself. If possible, with much more bitterness.
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“Reliability problem? No, it has nothing to do with it. There was a problem when I had already touched the wall and the reverse didn’t work, so I couldn’t get off the wall and go back. The car didn’t look that much damaged, apart from the front wing. Although it was a big shock, but I don’t know what happened. Honestly, that’s a detail and as far as I’m concerned I wouldn’t even want to focus on that. I cannot make these mistakes. I have been at a very high level since the beginning of the year, perhaps one of the highest in my career, but if I make these mistakes it is useless to be at a high level, ”Leclerc told Sky Sport F1. “This is unacceptable. If at the end of the year we lose the championship by 32 points, the ones I lost between Imola and Le Castellet, I will know where this disadvantage comes from. It means it comes to me. Let’s see at the end of the year, we will do the math. But I can’t do these things. Was I pushing for the stop? Yes of course, but let’s all push, I don’t want it to become an excuse. Scream in the radio team? I was not aware that I had the radio on. I would have preferred to keep it to myself, but it is life “.
Binotto: “In Hungary for the double”
“I told Charles that the championship is difficult but not impossible and that he will enjoy even more in the event of a final victory. We have to stay focused on every race. If I look at the latest appointments, we have been very careful. It has not always resulted in the best result in terms of championship points, but that does not mean that this will not happen in the next races. The potential is there and with it the pilots. I am quite positive and we are positive that we are lucky to be racing in Hungary in seven days ”. The number one of the Cavallino also made it clear that Leclerc’s error was not the result of a more aggressive pace than usual in anticipation of an immediate stop: “There was no pit stop in the lap of Leclerc’s error. We were lapping and at that moment the medium tires on our car were performing well, Charles was handling them correctly. Our intention was certainly to extend that race stint ”.
Many points have been lost in many ways and we will gain many, we have to look at the points that are still up for grabs and not those lost – said Binotto – Charles is a champion, no one in the team will ever question him and we have all total trust in him. I have already told him that there are ten races to win, even today as tire degradation we had the better of Red Bull and of Max who was starting to degrade after about 15 laps. Everything was going well, the car is competitive enough to make a double already in Hungary. We are already turning the page, it makes no sense to discuss a driver’s mistake, a champion like him: he is already with the engineers with a smile to analyze his pace. We are already thinking about next week’s race ”.
“In the future we have to put everything together, we have to be perfect and lucky. We’re cutting our teeth. We have total confidence in everyone, we have made a huge leap. Let’s show, we are the reference for others – he added – As mentioned, now let’s turn the page for Hungary: the World Cup is now more complicated but not impossible. We have to do our best race after race ”.
Undercut Verstappen: “Do the opposite of Leclerc, perfect tires”
Charles Leclerc’s accident during the 18th lap of the French Grand Prix deprived professionals and fans of a challenge that had been intense from the very first stint of the race up to Max Verstappen’s pit stop. Leclerc, who started from pole position, kept the lead when the traffic lights went out and managed to defend perfectly against the Dutchman despite the latter having had the DRS available for about ten laps.
In this period of time, however, Verstappen only managed to be seen outside in the approach of Curva-11, the Beausset, the very one in which Leclerc then lost control of his Ferrari F1-75. Listening to the radio communications between Max Verstappen and his track engineer Gianpiero Lambiase relating to the first race stint, it emerges that after a long study phase the Dutchman’s tires have overheated a bit to the point that Max declared ” I’m stuck here ”.
As a result, the Dutchman pulled away slightly from Leclerc so as not to tire the tires too much and in Red Bull they waited for the first useful window to make the pit stop, agreeing to finish behind Norris and perhaps Ocon. Verstappen’s stop, however, was not dictated by a drop in performance. In fact, via radio, Lambiase ‘called’ the pit stop in Verstappen, warning him, however, to stay on track if Leclerc stopped.
In the 2.4 seconds of a truly excellent pit stop, the Red Bull mechanics also corrected the front wing to protect the left front tire, which was the most stressed. Immediately after the pit stop Verstappen asked whether or not to push to gain the position on Leclerc receiving an affirmative answer from the wall, shortly thereafter the Safety Car arrived for the k.o. of the Monegasque. Also interesting is the information given by Lambiase to Verstappen that the rear left was in perfect condition after the pit stop. In general, the exchange of communications between the Dutch driver and the wall reveals the fact that Red Bull was not in trouble in the first stint of the race, but concentrated on passing Leclerc to the pits after failing on the track. The sincere ‘regret’ expressed by Lambiase at the end of the race for not being able to fight with Leclerc for the entire race is perhaps due to the lack of responses that Red Bull had in comparison with Leclerc’s Ferrari due to the Monegasque’s departure from the track. .
Marko attacks Perez: “He slept on the restart, he drank tequila yesterday”
On the one hand the joy of Max Verstappen, on the other the regret of Sergio Perez. The French GP at Red Bull ended with mixed feelings. The world leader collected his seventh win of the season in 12 races, while the Mexican was beaten at the end of a spectacular duel by George Russell’s Mercedes, which with the third place finish brought two cars of the season for the first time this season. Brackley’s team on the podium, alongside his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who finished second.
The crucial moment in Russell’s race was the restart after the Virtual Safety Car situation. At that juncture, the Englishman, who was behind Perez’s Red Bull, was extremely reactive. Milton Keynes’s # 11, on the other hand, remained ‘in place’, letting it slip off almost without a shot being fired. Vain were then his subsequent attempts to regain a top-3 placement. After the race Perez spoke of confusion linked to the moment in which the neutralization of the race should have ended. But fierce criticism of Checo’s work also came from the Red Bull team.
Helmut Marko, never tender in his comments even when it comes to pulling the ears of his team’s drivers, has in fact analyzed hard the inattention committed by Checo. “Sergio seems to have fallen asleep at the restart after the Virtual Safety Car – thundered the Austrian manager, speaking to various German media – perhaps he drank tequila last night. With Max, the tires held up better than we expected, but we also have to admit that we thought overtaking on the track would be easier, ”he concluded.
F1 2022 France GP World Championship points
DRIVER STANDINGS 📊
Verstappen increases his lead out in front 💪
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2022
TEAM STANDINGS 📊
Mercedes close the gap to Ferrari in P2 👀
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2022