When track conditions changed radically with 4 laps to go, the hardest thing for a driver is to make the right decision in a perspective that is neither short nor long. It seems evident that in the case of Sochi, between lap 48 and lap 49 the watershed - it is appropriate to say - was formed between making the shot or losing it.
PHOTO CREDIT: Scuderia Ferrari
Above all, the drivers' who remained screwed were clearly Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, and Charles Leclerc. A single denominator but with rather different causes.
The Spaniard and the Ferrari driver were together with Perez on the medium tyres (C4), which gave significantly higher confidence than those who traveled on the hard (C3) like Norris or Sainz.
The softer tyres have a lower or better operating window, in wet conditions, it is easier to regain temperature if you lose it on the surface. It is clear that this is not eternal if the temperature does not rise again or worse still drops.
Raikkonen himself - who did it all right - soon realized that the hard tyres no longer worked. At that point he decides to enter to "try something different, discarding the soft and definitely wanting the intermediate".
This is also because the Alfa Romeo C41 does not have a high dose of downforce coupled with a good mechanical grip.
What could have been a sort of advantage - for those who found themselves recovering thanks to the yellow tyres - turned out to be a boomerang on balance. He may have fooled the drivers awareness by confusing more than one wall. Everyone hoped to stay on track.
Of those on the C4 (tyre), only Verstappen and Bottas gained a lot by going to the pits.
The first was somehow forced by the low downforce adopted that was making him work harder than others anyway. For the Finn, nothing to lose and some data to offer in the Hamilton box.
Speaking of Alonso and Leclerc, both were in strong recovery until lap 49 in mixed conditions. From the driver's point of view in that circumstance, it is very difficult to decide what is best for himself in the medium term, the drivers cannot read what is beyond the stretch of track they are facing.
In essence, it is always the team that has the most information in perspective. At that juncture, it was understood that the last 4 laps would be infinite.
In a way, we can think that even the high downforce has helped some cars rather than others not to collapse immediately. Leading the most instinctive pilots to remain undecided.
Nor was Norris the clear example, his "No!", extremely dry, was instinctive because at that moment he wanted the car to hold.
Being in the lead, instinct can tell you not to stop as long as you keep the car on the track but in this case, the clarity of the Mercedes and the experience of Hamilton have won.
A question to ask is not whether some should have gone along with the box as Hamilton and Verstappen did, because the answer in hindsight seems obvious. Rather because the pits - with people lapping 10 seconds beyond the crossover time between slicks and intermediates - were unable to talk and take the drivers by the hand or impose themselves in the right way.
Perhaps all this mass of data that is analyzed today, and F1 in which it seems you are afraid of being responsible for a decision, takes away from the authority of those who once decided bad or good. There seems to be a strange tendency for the more instinctive pilots to disobey. Sometimes with good reason. However, in the long run, it is something that can sow panic when a yes or no is really needed.
Mercedes and Red Bull are certainly the most solid in this and it has been seen. Which brings greater clarity.
Ferrari also remains a little too often in the middle. In some cases, even the driver needs to feel greater determination behind him to trust with greater serenity.
Also because not even Michael Schumacher yesterday, or Lewis Hamilton today, could have won some races at the limit if they had not had clear indications.
Basically, the trivially fundamental sensations of the driver should never tarnish or, worse, overrule the overall gaze that the team has to assert with dozens of screens in front of its technicians.
In McLaren, they will certainly talk about it (the above).
Ferrari: the power unit went beyond expectations.
Ferrari closed the weekend with a light and dark result. Carlos Sainz' podium mitigated the disappointment on the other side of the garage.
Both the Spaniard and Leclerc started very well from their respective positions at the start, closing a great first lap.
Sainz started well using the important tow of the McLaren (this time with a lot of wing) and commanded most of the first stint until he had graining on the front. The problem largely due to having forced the pace too much in the first phase - with 100 kg on board - to take space from Norris and not be in DRS range.
Probably with the update used by his companion he would have had more comfortable management, i.e. more gradual than the average compound requires compared to the harder one.
Nonetheless, on a green and cold track, the worst conditions for the front of the SF21, the fears of Paul Ricard now seem quite distant.
A fresh power unit made its debut in the Leclerc's car with the first version and technology of the 2022 hybrid. Also in terms of reliability, which was the most 'problematic' issue at the counters.
Overall, what confirmed the PU4 was the possibility of maintaining the energy for longer than the old one. In short, a question of efficiency.
According to the GPS data, the difference between the two Ferraris was on average almost 2 tenths only in sector two, the stretch with continuous extensions and braking where it is important to recharge energy. Leclerc also showed certain ease of approach on rivals with greater aerodynamic efficiency. Consumption is now also 'breathing', in favor of a more thorough use of the heat engine.
The last sector in dirty air prevented the Monegasque in the first stint from passing a train of cars much slower than him and showing us his real pace for most of the race, which in free air could have been not far from Norris.
In Maranello, the contribution given by the new unit will be analyzed but it is quite clear that, as Binotto clearly said, it will also be mounted "as soon as possible" on Sainz' Ferrari, that is, in all probability, in less than two weeks in Turkey.
Written By: Giuliano Duchessa
Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
Orginal Link in Italian: https://www.formu1a.uno/power-unit-ferrari-a-maranello-molto-contenti-anche-dellaffidabilita/