Wednesday, 21 July 2021 - The reasons for Scuderia Ferrari's excellent performance at Silverstone.

PHOTO CREDIT: Scuderia Ferrari
The Silverstone weekend had to clarify the values ​​on the track, showing which car was the best between Mercedes and Red Bull. That didn't happen because Max and Lewis found themselves fatally in the position where, for various reasons, neither of them would back out.

This episode cannot fail to leave a mark between them. The big question is how they will act in the next side-by-side fight and whether they will trust each other again. The contact that took place at Copse is the result of growing tension and a difficult attempt that Hamilton could make, especially after what happened in Imola. It is a move that naturally requires the opponent's willingness to allow a lot of space. Verstappen is not that driver yet but he was also the one who had the most to lose.

The over 100 kg onboard load contributed to complicating the assessment. Plus it was clear that the day had not yet come when Max would start calculating. Looking back, who knows if, with a 33-point lead in reverse, would Lewis have done it. A race accident resulted, even if a 10-second penalty against Lewis should not be considered wrong given the greater responsibility of the British driver.

After the red flag, which saved Hamilton from retiring due to a damaged rim. Leclerc had taken the lead at the time of the red flag, taking pole on the grid for restart (a standing start).

Lewis' W12 was great, certainly better, but not dominant. During the sprint race, we saw essentially equal performance on C2 tires and relatively low tanks between Red Bull and Mercedes. An interesting signal for Brackley - combined with the excellent qualifying on Friday - who seems to have begun to understand how to make aerodynamics work better, in terms of efficiency.

Should the possibility of racing with less wing worry Red Bull?

No. Mercedes went very aggressive with the aerodynamic set-up also to close the gap that had been created with the RB16B in the qualifying of the last rounds, especially from that French GP which is the real point of discontinuity in this world championship. And trusting in the fact that the Sprint Race was a race that was run with low fuel tanks and with no tire management problem (considering the Medium as the perfect compound to be able to push 100% for the entire 100 km).

It half worked. Pole for Hamilton with Bottas very close to Verstappen who could have been even 3 tenths from the seven-time world champion in the 'strange' qualifying late afternoon on Friday. The error at the start of the Hamilton Sprint Race thwarted everything.

On the other hand, in Mercedes, there was some more concern for the first race stint, with a full load (fuel). Lewis also knew it, especially after the Sprint the day before. Hence his aggressiveness in taking a position 'at all costs' so as not to let his rival run away. Without Verstappen, it seemed quite predictable to overtake the Ferrari after a lap or two, and instead, Hamilton showed that in the first stint of the race the W12 was not great.

Leclerc kept the lead until the stop managing a good gap of 2 seconds which was actually 12 with Lewis penalized. The reason why the plan was to delay the pit as much as possible without the undercut's concern.

Updates in a crucial area, the central section, of the car for Mercedes in the UK. The goal was to improve rear flow.
Illustration By: Rosario Giuliana.
We have no counter-proof, however, in Mercedes, they are convinced that Red Bull is still ahead. The updates (in the Netherlands there will be other small 'tweaks' James Allison revealed) have been positively evaluated even if the full potential has not yet been extracted. The W12 came close to Red Bull but less than expected in the race, mainly for two reasons: the only hour of free practice did not allow for much work on the setup and, as understood, these updates could be more effective on other types of tracks,  more than efficiency. Silverstone with this type of cars, which generate a lot of loads seen, is less so.

How strong was Leclerc and how weak was the W12 in the first phase of the race?

Some data in comparison suggest. The pace of Leclerc, and potentially also of Sainz, although the Spaniard is slightly underdog on front Limited tracks, was better than that of Bottas by 3-4 tenths on averages enough to keep him with a certain calm behind after the help of Norris. Another sign that the fuel-laden W12 has struggled enough.

But why was the SF21 strong on a circuit where on paper it might not have been?

There are a few reasons: both Leclerc and Sainz had good feelings from FP1, a sign that the setup brought by Maranello was already quite centered. Quite a constant this season, so much so that Leclerc had emphasized it at the entrance to the weekend.

Ferrari arrived better prepared than others so much so that in the Sprint race Leclerc was only 4 tenths from the top while McLaren was no closer than 7 tenths. Considering the horsepower deficit, the performance of the papaya team was rather disappointing.

Something in the preparation at Woking went wrong. It should be emphasized in this sense that their Fridays were not always ideal. A McLaren that appeared not brilliant even if it lost a few points and that is consoled by Ricciardo in recovery, predictable on a layout that does not have tight radius corners.

The floor update brought by Red Bull to Silverstone.
Illustration By: Rosario Giuliana.
The SF21 with the same HP is obviously worse than the RB16B and the W12 in terms of aerodynamic downforce (the front is missing, which cannot be changed with the tokens already used for the rear), nevertheless it showed an interesting growth in this aspect and in handling. The balance on harder compounds which until now had created some operating problems.

The Paul Ricard was a weekend of external conditions, the rain between qualifying and the race on all but also smooth asphalt and low temperatures, not favorable associated with completely wrong choices in terms of set-up. The front (end) went completely into crisis, the rear also, albeit to a lesser extent. In the UK the conditions were different: the asphalt was completely different, more abrasive, the track much more rubberized and the temperatures much higher.

Almost the opposite to France, so much so that the two GPs are hardly comparable. This is why Leclerc spoke with good reason of "Paul Ricard's problems not yet resolved" after Silverstone. Should the conditions in France recur, the SF21 would not be that of Silverstone, it would suffer more, however with different set-up choices much less than what was negatively admired a few weeks ago.

The new floor that debuted for Free Practice in Austria race 1, and was used throughout the weekend on both SF21s in Austria race 2, has been confirmed for the Silverstone GP.
Illustration By: Rosario Giuliana.
Maranello's car is not the best in insertion or in long-distance bends in support, where it suffers from understeer, but it has an excellent behavior when changing direction, which has had its importance in some sections where the time is set. The tokens spent on the rear suspension are paying off and the car is continuing to work well and improve in traction. It is no coincidence that Binotto spoke of 'good prospects' for the rest of the season.

On the C2 (tire) the performance was excellent both in terms of wear and temperature control, something not entirely seen on Hamilton's Mercedes, accentuated blistering on the front left and overheating of the rear. On the C1, on the other hand, the W12 has perfectly centered in the window of use expressing itself at its best, since Bottas has also significantly improved his performance even if not at the level of being able to resume Leclerc.

Finally, it must be considered that the British one was the first Grand Prix with the new rear compound similar to the one that will be used for the production of the 18-inch tire for 2022. No team reported obvious problems of adaptation, but it was an additional variable added, to be carefully checked in the next appointments.

Could Ferrari win it?

The Monegasque driver could also have done it if Sainz had had a better weekend. When he stopped he was 20 seconds behind his teammate; had he been closer, not impossible with a good qualifying and without the pit stop problem, he would have helped in the strategy by preventing Hamilton from recovering too quickly in the second stint. Or conditioning it in some way on the pace or on the tires. Something similar to Spa 2019 - in that case with Vettel - could have happened.

Lewis was able to catch Ferrari in time due to the ease with which McLaren passed and of course thanks to the team order given to Bottas.

Towards Hungary.

According to what has been learned from sources, in view of Hungary, Ferrari has begun to be more aggressive on the power unit front in terms of energy recovery.

As already reported, according to the original plans there was room to implement the performance of the hybrid part from Hungary through new specifications improved in reliability that could guarantee a small step forward in terms of energy storage and use, namely the possibility to be able to spend it a little longer during the lap. It is a very important work in view of 2022 because the introduction of fuel with 10% ethanol seems to reduce the power of the ICE on the bench by about 5% with the same consumption.

In Budapest everyone will have to go with maximum downforce levels; with a normal weekend, we will have more elements to interpret how much improvement the Mercedes has been compared to its rival, with a Ferrari that will arrive with the lights off but will want to be fighting for something more than the 'normal' positions.

Written By: Giuliano Duchessa and Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Illustrations By: Rosario Giuliana

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