After the race in the US, Ferrari is optimistic that it will take third place in the team standings from McLaren. Drivers praise the car’s development during the season. Each of the few aerodynamic upgrades and power unit tweaks had an impact.
Ferrari dominated the midfield in Austin. And he left with the knowledge that the SF21 could now compete with a long straight line between them on a track with high downforce. With more engine power, fewer compromises are required from the team when setting up the car.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were faster than McLaren in qualifying. Obviously, they were faster at the race distance. Leclerc finished fourth, and in the final race he was hoping to knock Sergio Perez off the podium. The Mexican was physically beaten.
But the Ferrari driver also felt tired: “The last period was the most physically difficult. The heat and the shocks made it difficult for all drivers today,” reported Monegasse newspaper. In the end, within ten seconds, he was a very short distance from the podium. However, the mood in the Reds camp was good. Because McLaren had no chance. “I wasn’t in danger of losing fourth place,” Leclerc said overjoyed.
Sainz fights McLaren
In fact, both Ferraris were supposed to cross the finish line before their rivals for third place in the championship. However, the other side of the garage has praised two mistakes. On the start lap and on the second hole. The beginning of the beginning. “I really wanted to take advantage of the soft tyres, but I fell off the line poorly,” Sainz explained. “This put me on the defensive against McLaren.”
The Spaniard went off the track in turn and slipped behind Daniel Ricciardo, who ceded him again on the slalom. The joy was short-lived. The Australian pushed himself to the right for the next straight, and Lando Norris charged from the back with a double stream. The Englishman braked next to him in the inner lane. The trio shifted to curve side-to-side in Leclerc’s rear-view mirror, causing Sainz to slide off the piste onto the outside fairway. “I wanted to give Lando enough space so we wouldn’t crash.”
Sainz knew he had to give up the place again. The gas took off briefly, but to the wrong pilot. THE PROBLEM: Ricciardo overtakes his teammate in Turns 13 and 14. Ferrari opened the door for the Australian on the inside lane of Turn 16, but pointed it at Norris. The race hosts demanded that Sainz also let the Englishman pass, which he did on lap eight. Otherwise, there would be a penalty. The counterattack (with the DRS) was immediately followed. Meanwhile, Ricciardo increased his lead from 2 seconds to 4.6 seconds.
Sainz calls for a better stop
Norris’s tire change on lap 10 led to a seventh-place finish at the World Drilling Championships one lap later. “We really wanted to stay outside for as long as possible. When Norris stopped, we had to protect ourselves,” explains team principal Mattia Binotto. Ferrari saved safely undercutting the road as the 2.2s gap was big enough and Norris lost time behind Aston Martin Lance Stroll.
On the solid tires, Sainz went looking for Ricciardo again. This time Ferrari decided to stop early shortly after the middle of the race. However, since it took 5.6 seconds to change the tire, the tire undermining failed. “We made a valuable mistake,” Binotto said decisively. “Carlos lost to Ricciardo and he paid for it in the end against Bottas. It shows that every detail must be correct.” Instead of the fifth rank, he jumped the seventh.
Sainz warned: “Unfortunately, this is not the first stop not working this year. We are missing points. This season may not be as dramatic. But if we want to fight for the world championship in the future, we have to dominate it.”
Attempts to overtake Ricciardo on the track in the final stage failed. It was a respectable duel – contact with the enemy included. In a Ferrari, I tore the lower part of the end panel of the right front wing. Sainz does not hold a grudge. “That was on the verge of legality. But I wouldn’t have done it any other way. The driver inside belongs in the corner. The driver outside has a lot to lose. The only thing that shouldn’t have been the little touch. Otherwise it would have been a clean defence.”
Engine ignition and pneumatic upgrades
Ferrari cut the difference against McLaren in the team championship to three and a half points. Third place in the Manufacturers Cup is at your fingertips. Especially since the SF21 is now a fast car on the straights, too. With the overall upgrade on the hybrid side of the power unit, Ferrari found between a tenth and a tenth of a second, depending on the track. Binotto is happy: “We can keep up the straight path. The gap between the best engines isn’t that big anymore.” What is meant is a Mercedes engine.
Pilots not only praise the development on the engine side. “The upgrade put us in a better position against McLaren. But we also have to highlight the two or three updates that came to the car earlier this season.” Ferrari has also improved its aerodynamics. The mood is good after Austin. “After Monza and Sochi, McLaren looked like the favorite for third place. After Turkey and here, the situation is different.” The team leader also agrees. “I’m confident about the races ahead. In Mexico we are less dependent on the engine. It should work better. I think we can be more competitive than McLaren there.”
In thin air, the aerodynamic drag of cars falls automatically. This helps like a Ferrari, which isn’t as slippery as McLaren, for example.
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