Ferrari is ready for the first big F1 update to fight Red Bull

Ferrari is set to unveil its first major update package at the Spanish Grand Prix after rival in the Red Bull Formula One championship got “a couple of tenths” through car development.

After five races in the 2022 season, Ferrari is leading both the driving and construction championships, but for the first time this season has been defeated by Red Bull in two consecutive grand prizes.

Max Verstappen won the Emilia Romagna and Miami Grand Prix and reduced Charles Leclerc’s lead in the league to 19 points, while Ferrari’s advantage in the team standings is now just six points.

The two teams have so far had markedly different approaches to development.

Ferrari has barely changed its car since a new floor was introduced during pre-season testing, while Red Bull introduced aerodynamic and weight-saving upgrades from the new side pads, and a new floor appeared in the second test.

Red Bull’s early development rate is probably unsustainable given the budget constraint – something Ferrari first said publicly – but even so, Ferrari team director Mattia Binotto is aware that “to keep pace, we need to evolve and introduce upgrades”.

This will happen at the next race in Spain, where Ferrari will bring significant upgrades, including a new floor that should reduce slipperiness and help Ferrari lower the car lower.

“In the next races, it will be at least our turn to try to develop the car as much as possible by introducing upgrades,” Binotto said.

“I think it’s no surprise that we may have a package in Barcelona that will be important to us.

“As usual, I hope the package we present works as expected to try to close the current gap compared to Red Bull.”

It comes at a crucial moment for Ferrari, because although the initial specification of the F1-75 was good enough to fight for pole position in every race, it lagged behind the lighter, upgraded RB18 in racing.

Binotto believes that Red Bull is a couple of tenths faster per lap thanks to the upgrade brought to Imola.

Ferrari ran in Miami with more thrust than expected after abandoning a plan to use the rear wing with less resistance due to the challenge of adapting to the new track surface.

This exaggerated the usual lack of speed on a straight line that Ferrari has over Red Bull with lower resistance, but did not come with the expected gain in cornering performance – at least not at the lowest speeds, where Ferrari previously had the advantage.

“Red Bull was very good in that regard, they were very good on medium tires to be as fast as us in very slow turns,” Binotto said after the race.

“The reason why this is something we need to evaluate and understand.

“And, in fact, I believe they got upgrades in recent races that simply made their car faster.”

Poleman Leclerc finished second behind Verstappen in Miami after passing early in the first stage, and only a late safety car allowed him to challenge Red Bull late.

After seeing his strong advantage in early points diminish in the last two events, Leclerc said it was important for Ferrari to respond even though he argued that “this is not a concern”.

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“Of course, they have improved,” Leclerc said.

“I think we all expected them to improve. They are a very strong team and we are aware of that. So it’s no surprise.

“But I’m also confident in my team and I’m sure it will bring upgrades that will get us back to the top.

“I hope so. But we are doing well and we have done very well in the last few years to get back to the top.

“So I hope these upgrades will help us challenge them again.”

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