Will tires be a problem for Ferrari?

Will tires be a problem for Ferrari?


(Motorsport-Total.com) – Charles Leclerc has to catch up with Sergio Perez to finish the 2022 Formula 1 season as world vice-champion. However, the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, could be a tough spot in this regard, because his Ferrari team expects a very challenging race on Sunday after qualifying well, not least due to the high level of tire wear.

Charles Leclerc first has to fight his way through the field in the Austin race

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Leclerc is expected to start the race in 12th place. On Saturday it became official that he needs a new combustion engine and a new turbocharger, which means a drop of ten places on the grid. Perez also receives a penalty, but is still in 9th place according to the unofficial FIA grid.

“We knew before this weekend that there was a high possibility of a penalty,” says Ferrari race director Laurent Mekies. “We’ve been in that situation several times this year, so we know there’s still a chance to get good points. That’s right, we’ll try to fight our way. Maybe there will be safety. – Car.”

In qualifying, the “sorry position” was clearly within reach of Leclerc. After the first race of Q3, he was 0.159 seconds ahead of Carlos Sainz. So the last lap had to bring a decision, and it turned into a head-to-head duel: Leclerc was 0.020 seconds faster in the first sector, Sainz 0.013 seconds faster in the second.

Where Leclerc lost his pole

But Sainz kept his confidence back: When Max Verstappen threw a possible pole after the best intermediate time with a small mistake at turn 19, Leclerc also made a mistake and lost 0.072 seconds to his team-mate in the last 30 seconds of driving. In the end, the two were separated by 0.065 seconds.

Leclerc does not lament the best time: “My last leg was not the best. And when the distance is very small, you can find time somewhere,” he says, but: “Carlos did the best job today and he deserves to be on pole. And the situation was very difficult due to wind changes.”

Leclerc lost a hundredth of a second in the very last meters. Like many other drivers, the soft Pirelli tire was a little damaged at the back, which led to oversteer: “Of course, I like when the rear is a little loose. But it was too loose in the last corner. I had too little there. wasted time a lot.”

Race Preview: Having Tire Problems?

The race could be more difficult for Ferrari than qualifying. It’s no secret that while the F1-75 heats up the tires quickly, which is beneficial for a quick lap; but it also pushes hard, which can have a negative effect on the distance of the race.

Mekies affirms: “The truth is, part of our strength in getting the tires to work and doing it on the first scheduled lap sometimes we also pay the price in the race. When the tires are used, ours shine Weakness. more strength.”

While Pirelli considers a suspension of one or two pits possible, Ferrari accepts a two-stop race: “We expect high tire wear. And in such races, the differences from car to car and from driver to driver are usually big,” Mekies he predicts challenges. one in the afternoon.

“Drivers should be able to accurately assess how much they can push the tires at different stages of the race. We expect a different race and we see that as an opportunity for us to take another step in an area where until now there were sometimes problems.”

Third practice session: errors affect preparation

Especially since Leclerc’s race preparation in the free practice sessions did not go well. On Friday afternoon, the long time was limited this time due to the testing of the 2023 Pirelli models. And in the third session of free practice on Saturday, the Monegasque could not complete the long time that had been planned.

“We had a bit of a tire cut,” he explains. “We didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks too close to qualifying. I did a long time in the second practice session that others don’t because I wasn’t at the start of FT1. We might have a little bit more data from the third practice session, but I don’t think it will affect the race.”

Leclerc: “I won’t take any stupid risks”

Leclerc knows very well that the race is a “climb” for him, and not just up the hill to the first corner: “I will give everything and try to get the leaders as soon as possible. I will not take any. stupid risks. But if the opportunity arises, I will be there to take it. “

The main rivals for victory are Verstappen, who is the favorite of many experts, and Sainz. However, Mekies warns against overlooking Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who have moved up to the second row of the grid due to a grid penalty: “We expect that not only Red Bull but also Mercedes can be expected tomorrow,” he says. .