Red Bull start to close in on Ferrari pace

F1 Racing - - IN­SIDER -

Not only are Ferrari be­hind Mercedes again this sea­son, they are fall­ing into the grip of their rapidly im­prov­ing ri­vals

Ferrari face a tough bat­tle with Red Bull for sec­ond in the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship fol­low­ing Max Ver­stap­pen’s Span­ish Grand Prix win. Events there proved what was al­ready sus­pected – that Red Bull have a signicantly bet­ter chas­sis than Ferrari. And so, it seems, do McLaren.

Ferrari have a signicant engine-power ad­van­tage in this bat­tle, which even af­ter they'd messed up qual­i­fy­ing gave them an ad­van­tage in the race. But the nal sec­tor of the qual­i­fy­ing lap in Barcelona, where engine power is as unim­por­tant in terms of over­all time as al­most any sec­tion of track on the cal­en­dar, told its own story. There, the fastest car was the Mercedes, fol­lowed by the Red Bull, fol­lowed by Fer­nando Alonso’s McLaren – it was only then that Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s Ferrari ap­peared.

Ferrari’s big­gest con­cern will be the ma­jor Re­nault engine up­grade, which, as F1 Rac­ing went to press, was sched­uled to make its full de­but at the Cana­dian Grand Prix. This is ex­pected to give the car a lap­time boost of some 0.45s.

It was run at the post-Span­ish Grand Prix test in Barcelona, af­ter which Re­nault were to de­cide whether to bring its de­but for­ward to Monaco. That lap-time im­prove­ment equates to a power gain of about 30bhp – which would put Re­nault’s engine per­for­mance very close to Ferrari’s, and po­ten­tially en­able the ex­cel­lent Red Bull chas­sis to put them ahead. At the very least, Red Bull ex­pect it to let them reg­u­larly chal­lenge Ferrari.

Red Bull team prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner said af­ter the Span­ish Grand Prix: “With what’s in the pipe­line for the com­ing races there is a lot of rea­son for op­ti­mism.

“If we get what’s ad­ver­tised, it is go­ing to put us in a po­si­tion at least to race the Fer­raris ev­ery week­end, and then hope­fully we can start get­ting into clos­ing the gap down to Mercedes at cer­tain cir­cuits. “The up­grades com­ing on the power unit and the chas­sis will en­able us to start build­ing on this per­for­mance, and hope­fully have a few more per­for­mances like this in the re­main­ing races.”

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