Monday 28 June 2021 - Ferrari, the race pace did not disappear.

PHOTO CREDIT: Scuderia Ferrari
There is more and more margin between the Verstappen-Hamilton duo and the rest of the world. As always, when there is a very strong fight for the championship, the two title protagonists receive maximum support and tend to distance themselves from their teammates as well.

A gap that could expand further in the championship, also thanks to the total freezing of the others in view of 2022. It will not be surprising, as long as the championship is alive we will have other races with many dubbed.

Yesterday only the top four completed all the laps, but the fact that we ran on the shortest track of the year in terms of time should not be underestimated.

Max won effortlessly, Hamilton's difficulties were already quite evident on Saturday with the rear tending to slide. Little protection on the rear, with a more qualifying-oriented set-up, where Mercedes had to recover against Red Bull.  But in the race he didn't give the expected results, Toto Wolff admitted it too. The very hot conditions certainly didn't help. Only the rain would have narrowed the gap a little, reducing the importance of the rear to the advantage of the front axle.

The optimization and understanding of the W12 is no longer enough, which now looks like a car at its 'maximum'. To date clearly inferior to that of the RB16B, which has grown in recent events thanks to the understanding of the many updates brought to the track, including two versions of front wings (Monaco and Baku), more tweaks to the diffuser, and the leap forward in terms of use of the power unit from the French GP.

This was not lost on the competitors, Mercedes, and Ferrari, who clearly noticed it. According to Red Bull, a new oil specification has increased the horsepower of Honda's #2 unit, which is the same spec from the start of the season given the freeze in terms of updates.

As for the oil, an update between the end of the 2020 and 2021 seasons was granted.

Verstappen has won an important race and goes 18 points up on the defending champion while RedBull has stretched away in the constructors: the fourth win in a row is a very big sign.

In the meantime, it should also be remembered that with the introduction of the technical directive on Flexi Wings, RedBull showed no signs of weakness on the straight that some were afraid to see. But that may have been well 'absorbed' by the performance boost of the Honda PU. However, it could have reliability as its weak point.

Mercedes is very confident in this. It is not for nothing that they put pressure on the 'flexi wings' in order to also affect Honda. Forcing them to push even further was their goal.

Ferrari has shown itself in good shape and does not eat the tyres as some believe or would have us believe.

What is certain is that Ferrari has lost many, too many points since the start of the season.  Also this weekend at the Styrian GP.

Despite the clearly duller qualifying than usual, the SF21 was certainly able to finish further up the standings (P5 and P7), certainly in full battle with Norris. The Lando himself confirmed this: "Without the problem Leclerc had, he would have been in front of us, or at least it would have been a great threat".

Leclerc's contact with Gasly, avoidable by the Monegasque, is just an episode between bad luck and negligence that is added to others.

Unlike Paul Ricard, Ferrari chose a very loaded (higher downforce) setup at Spielberg: a configuration similar in some ways to the one used with the SF90.  However, two years ago the Maranello car could amply afford a lot more drag on the straights.

The SF21 is much better than the SF1000 in almost everything, so even in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, but it still pays HP from rivals and its own 2019 power unit. Which is saying something. Nonetheless, the average race pace was very convincing since Friday when there was still little grip.

With increasing grip, things have also improved, with no signs of overheating, obviously maintaining the problem of straight-line speed under the same conditions. That is, in qualifying, when all the cars can open the DRS at the same time but in the race it is different.  With no trains with open DRSs for many, the SF21 passed pretty smoothly just about every car except Red Bull and Mercedes.

It would have been difficult to pass Lando's McLaren but Leclerc, with the race without significant traffic, would have finished 49 seconds behind Verstappen according to what we collected. Carlos Sainz, more penalized by the starting position, gained a lot: 5 positions over Gasly.

Unlike Portimão, Paul Ricard, or certain stages in Baku, the SF21 activated the tyres correctly in all conditions.

It is quite evident that the problems (not easy to solve because they depend on a front which is that of the SF1000) arise when the characteristics of the track favor the protection of the front tyres combined with low grip.

We have now entered the week of the Austrian GP, ​​which will be raced on softer compounds (the compound for qualifying will be the C5) and with a goal at Ferrari: try to make some steps forward on Saturday...  Which will then be the work that drivers and engineers will carry out in the next few hours to understand if it will be worthwhile on Friday to make a set-up comparison, bringing the spoon wing seen at Paul Ricard back to the track or whether to confirm the macro setup used in this positive weekend...

We have a very interesting week ahead of us for other reasons as well.

Pirelli will propose sets of new updated rear tyres that the teams will test in free practice. It is clear that such a change can only produce effects, starting with Silverstone, the GP in which the Federation would like to introduce them.

Pirelli received a request for willingness to introduce safer tyres directly from the FIA. For this, no vote will be needed but only FIA and Pirelli, obviously hearing the opinions of the teams, will decide whether to introduce them. The odds to date are still very high, given what has been collected.

What are the effects? It is difficult to predict. But to put it to Wolff, "this year we take everything that can be a 'bet' as we have to make up ground".

It should be considered that the traction phase heavily penalized by aerodynamic limitations seemed to be a fundamental key to finding performance. This despite the fact that even in this appointment the loss of performance compared to 2020 should be highlighted. With the same compounds, we always find ourselves with cars far from the pace of a year ago. Red Bull gained seven-tenths of an average pace over Mercedes, taking the lead by 0.2 seconds.

Ferrari does not mind - on paper - an even stiffer rear tyre, which may also have to force the opponents to implement the relative load to manage the setup and activate the rear tyres. In this sense, the Ferrari would seem to lack that middle configuration that others: McLaren and AlphaTauri in addition to Red Bull, have genetically available.

 If this were true, the margin on the obverse could become thinner in certain contexts.

 In a few days, there will be a sort of replay that promises to be very interesting for everyone.

Article Written By: Giuliano Duchessa and Piergiuseppe Donadoni from

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