Red Bull start to close in on Ferrari pace
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 significantly better chassis than Ferrari. And so, it seems, do Mclaren.
Ferrari have a significant engine-power advantage in this battle, which even after they'd messed up qualifying gave them an advantage in the race. But the final 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.”