Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2019

Leclerc “confident” Ferrari can regain testing form

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Charles Leclerc says he is confident Ferrari can regain the form they enjoyed prior to their disappointing Australian Grand Prix weekend.

What they say

At the end I think it’s not like we arrived with a very different car to testing. It’s not like Mercedes [who] has come with a very different car. So I think the car is there. In the past it has been seen quite a lot of times that it’s a strange track and it’s not always very representative of the real performance of all the cars here in Australia so I’m confident that we can come back. How much, we don’t know, and this we’ll only know in two weeks. But yes, I’m confident.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Will Power, Penske, Circuit of the Americas, IndyCar, 2019
Will Power, Penske, Circuit of the Americas, IndyCar, 2019

Will Power will start the second consecutive IndyCar race of 2019 from pole position at the Circuit of the Americas today. He held off Andretti pair Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay to claim the top spot.

Newcomer Felix Rosenqvist again impressed with fifth on the grid but was beaten for top rookie honours by Colton Herta, who put his Harding-Steinbrenner car fourth on the grid for IndyCar’s first race at the home of the United States Grand Prix.

Round one winner Josef Newgarden with start seventh, one place behind reigning champion Scott Dixon. Patricio O’Ward, Zach Veach and Graham Rahal complete the top 10. Power’s pole time of 1’46.0177 is 13.78s slower than Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time from last year.

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Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

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Comment of the day

@StefMeister has given up on Formula E:

I went into season one with an open mind but a few seasons in I’ve given up on it as it’s just become plainly obvious that it just isn’t for me as for as interested in the tech aspect as I am I just can’t get into the gimmicks, the tracks and how much contact there is.

And the thing that annoys me with the gimmicks (Attack Mode and FanBoost) is that the cars are able to race pretty close and overtaking is possible without them so I just don’t see a good reason to have them and feel that attack mode in-particular just ends up been a silly distraction.

If they dropped the gimmicks and clamped down on the contact i’d be more able to get into it but as it is I just can’t get into it.

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On this day in F1

  • 35 years ago today Elio de Angelis put his Lotus on pole position for the first race of the year at Jacarepagua while Ayrton Senna took 16th on his debut for Toleman

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Leclerc “confident” Ferrari can regain testing form”

  1. When CART/Champ and Indy were still split, Champ cars raced in Montreal from 2002 to 2006 (confusingly called Molson Indy Montreal).
    In 2006, F1 pole was 1:14.942 (Alonso) and Champ car was 1:20.005, a much smaller difference than the IndyCars at COTA.

    1. The current performance difference is quite a feat.
      Aero has always been better in F1, but it seems that the current PU’s, smaller but with hybrid technology, make most of the difference. 14% faster is very impressive.

    2. With Indycar and F1 being as different as they are, and the cost of an Indycar program being a small fraction of that to field an F1 team, I was never going to be very disappointed find out how much slower the Indycars actually are. That said, like Keith, I am a bit surprised to see the delta as big as it is. On the tv screen though, to me the Indycars look just as fast, and more of a handful to drive. With their lower downforce, horsepower, and no power steering, I’d be curious to hear from the likes of Rossi and Ericsson which car feels faster around the circuit…which car is more demanding to get a good lap out of.

      1. As far as I know ChampCarts/IndyCars had a much higher top speed than F1 cars due to ovals and less aero drag, they also used to sound fierce. But on “normal” circuits they looked like clay animation like Wallace and gromit due to lack of downforce versus an F1.

    3. @mtlracer, Montreal is a circuit whose configuration would be expected to reduce the deficit though, since there are very few high speed corners where an F1 car could extend its advantage.

      @coldfly, I think that the difference is fractionally higher – about 15% slower – which is rather surprising: even in qualifying trim, it looks like an IndyCar would be slower than a midfield team on a full tank of fuel (they were lapping in the 1m44 bracket in the opening laps of the 2018 GP).

      Now, it is true that COTA is a new circuit for IndyCar, so if they race there in the future, the gap may reduce as they gain more set up knowledge – that said, they did have an extended test session before the race so the drivers could learn the circuit, so how much is down to inexperience is open to question.

    4. But does it matter ? If they look fast and challenging to drive, if they can race close together and entertain the fans does it really matter?

  2. Verstappen can overtake a Ferrari for a podium, while Gasly in the same car can’t even pass a Toro Rosso for a point.
    Yes, that’s factually accurate. But means almost nothing.

    Means almost nothing?
    And that guy is an experienced F1 journalist?

    1. @coldfly, the point he was trying to make is that most people are making a fairly superficial comparison between team mates without considering the wider context.

      In the case of Gasly, he was facing a Toro Rosso that was being helped by being able to use DRS on the straights to drag it along, so Gasly was struggling to gain on Kvyat on the straights. A significant number of high ranking Honda personnel had gone to Australia to watch the race, the car ahead of him is the junior partner to his team and the team boss is well known for having a rather ruthless attitude to dumping drivers back down into the junior team, or just out of the sport altogether, for mistakes.

      Furthermore, Gasly was also reporting that there seemed to be a few issues with his power unit, as it sounds as if the overtake mode and some of the more aggressive ERS deployment maps weren’t working, hindering his ability to close on Kvyat.

      Now, in those circumstances, if Gasly had thrown the car down the inside of Kvyat and ended up colliding with him, it wouldn’t exactly make a good impression with either his parent team or with Honda’s delegation.

      By comparison, when Verstappen was closing up on Vettel, Vettel seems to have been in quite a bit more trouble than he let on after the race. The SF90 was consistently one of the slowest cars on the main straight, with the radio transmissions back and forth between the pit wall and the drivers hinting that Ferrari was trying to manage power unit problems throughout that race.

      For much of the race, the drivers were being told to turn the engines down – even the normal race map was only used sparingly. Furthermore, a few laps before Verstappen passed him, Vettel was sending radio calls back to the team asking them to check the engine telemetry as the ERS was de-rating abnormally and the engine revs fluctuating strangely – you can even hear the engine rpm drop noticeably on the straights just before he asked them to check the engine – and every single Ferrari powered team that weekend was complaining of problems with the energy recovery systems.

      Bearing in mind that Ferrari were also having major tyre management issues that race, yet chose to put Vettel on a one stop strategy that required him to nurse his tyres for much longer than planned, that stemmed from a major balance issue – persistent understeer – that made them especially slow through Turns 1 and 3, and the already poor straight line performance of the SF90, and it does look as if Vettel’s ability to defend himself was compromised.

      What he is saying is that, when people rush to compare team mates, they often don’t bother looking at the context in which those results occurred and often rush to tear into a driver, much as some were doing with Gasly.

      1. The sentiment of Hughes’ article is not a new one and has existed for as long as racing has. There are always going to be reasons, often beyond a driver’s control, why one driver did better than another as well as one teammate did over his fellow racer. I suspect that Hughes was inspired to write this article because in today’s anonymous social media world it is easy for posters to vilify those they don’t like at will, and that doesn’t just include drivers and team principals they don’t like, but also fellow blog contributors.

        I have always been able to look at reasons why things have happened in a race and to give the driver the benefit of the doubt in many cases. But I’m sure I’m not immune to the concept that when a driver we don’t like defends his poor race, or a fan of his does, they are making excuses, while fans of a driver or the driver himself that a fan likes, is giving reasons, not making excuses.

        It all can blend into the woulda, coulda, shoulda category, for everything that happens could be deemed ‘that’s racing for ya,’ but for sure I am always fairly open to hearing the reasons why this or that happened. In Gasly’s case I don’t expect him to be this quickly up to Max’s pace, nor Leclerc to be up there with Seb in these early days on their respective teams. I also still expect potential teething problems with RBR/Honda just because they are new together and have a different learning curve than Mercedes and Ferrari.

      2. Long explanation unregistered_anon but I’ve seen the race and it’s not my first day of F1.
        Stating that Verstappen overtaking Vettel and Gasly not doing the same with Kvyat ‘means almost nothing’ is BS, and every half expert knows it, even with the detailed reasoning you gave.
        Early days for Gasly, new team, new car, and coming fresh from the testing incident. I did not even expect him to be at the same level as his younger senior teammate. Even Gasly himself confirmed that he doesn’t “have the same experience in the team and also in Formula 1, so I would say that would not be the right target, to focus on him at the moment.”

  3. I don’t get the fascination about lap times. Indycars were known to be slower than f1. Hopefully by everyone!? Everything is slower than f1. Lmp1, superformula and indycar for sure. Even f1 itself should be slower than it is. For f1 being the fastest is important as it claims to be the fastest show on earth. But that is not the purpose of indycar at all. It is almost a spec series with couple of different engines and some other free components like dampers iirc. Indycars have always been slower than f1 cars. For their speed they can still create great racing and driving an indycar fast is not any easier than f1 car.

    F1 would be much better if the cars were slower. F1 needs less downforce as that is the only path to less dirty air which is the only path to getting rid of drs. I could not care less if f1 was 2s, 10s or 30s per lap faster than indycar when the only way to overtake is press a button in designated areas on the track and hope your tires don’t melt when doing so.

    1. @socksolid: Solid point. Bernie’s knee-jerk 2017 aero changes made the dirty air issue worse. But lap records fell. Whoopdeedo.

    2. @socksolid
      ”Even f1 itself should be slower than it is.”
      – I don’t agree with that one. I’ve been much happier with how the lap times have been over the last two seasons than how they were, for example, the three seasons before that especially 2014 and ’15. The lap times simply were pathetically slow in those two seasons, and 2012 wasn’t much better either. I hope we never get back to that. Furthermore, reducing the downforce isn’t the ‘only path’ to less dirty air as has been pointed out before. You only need to take Pat Symonds words on that to realize it’d be all too easy to do so and still fail to improve the quality of racing.

      The plan for the 2021 aero changes indeed is to find a way to generate/implement the DF differently so that the cars would be less clean air-dependent rather than merely reduce DF without doing anything else and that’s the right approach.

      1. Symonds did not even disagree with me. All he said reducing downforce is not a magic bullet but a good goal if done right. And in reality f1 needs three changes. Less downforce, more durable tires and lighter engines which could make the cars 100kg lighter. 1000bhp engine that weighs 100kg less than the current massively obese hybrid power units is relatively easy and cheap solution to the biggest problem of f1: The weight. That 100kg weight reduction is already worth more in lap time than all the downforce that was added in 2017 to speed up the slow hybrids.

        It would mean less downforce which also makes it easier for pirelli to make tires for f1. F1 actually does not need better more durable tires. It needs cars that don’t overstresss the tires with massive weight and downforce levels. After all pirelli has the hardest problem in f1. The cars are massively heavy and make tons of downforce plus engines have electronics that allow them to get perfect corner exits with high momentary torque numbers at the rear wheels… all this makes it really difficult to make good tires for f1. With 100kg less weight and lots of less downforce even these same “finicky” tires could handle hard wheel to wheel racing and sliding a lot more because the lighter cars won’t overstress the tires like these heavy cars do.

        That weight change alone would keep the speeds of the cars pretty close to where they are now. After all lots of f1 lap records are from the v10 era with light cars and grooved tires and much less downforce than we have now. It is not hard to get fast lap times if you are willing to make the cars actually fast race cars instead of road relevant fuel savers.

        There is no “different” way to build the downforce on the car. You can fine tune the systems to have as little dirty air and be less sensitive to it but by far the easiest way to do this is to have less downforce. People just don’t understand or refuse to accept the fact that f1 has way too much downforce. It just doesn’t work. More than ever before by clear margin. More dirty air than ever before. More sensitive to dirty air than ever before. What is even sadder is how some people see this massive downforce level as an absolute requirement for f1 to be fast. It is a bandaid that hides the real problem somewhere else. The engine.

        1. @socksolid, the lap records are down to the fact that the teams refuelled during the races and only lap times set during the race are allowed to count towards a lap record, because there are quite a few instances where the outright pace of the V10 cars would put them a long way behind the current cars.

          The lap record at Albert Part is currently a 1m24.125s lap by Schumacher in 2004, whilst his pole time in that race was a 1m24.408s lap time. The lap times he was setting then are nearly 4 seconds off the pole position time in 2019 – there are quite a few other circuits where there, again, the only reason why the 2004 cars, or sometimes 2005 cars, hold the record is because of the rules over refuelling.

          In China, the lap record is over 1 second slower than what the cars could do in qualifying today: around Suzuka, Kimi’s 1m31.5s lap time would have seen him line up at the back of the grid in 2018.

          I get the feeling, though, that you know that but are deliberately choosing to compare incompatible data to fit the picture that you want to put forward, which is your obsession with V10 engines. Tell me, is that because you grew up in that era and therefore because you have conditioned yourself to think that is what F1 must be about?

        2. Well, the engine (pu) isn’t going anywhere. They’ve spent too much money on developing it over this current chapter, and they all agreed to not even take away the one MGU unit that Liberty initially proposed.

          I have no reason to believe from anything Brawn has said that they won’t head in a much better direction for 2021 with a combination of aspects tackled, due to their two-car nose-to-tail wind tunnel work. The changing of the outwashing front wing this season is to me a big indicator that 2021 cars will technically regulated to not make nearly as much wake, albeit with no small amount of wake always going to be present. Brawn has spoken about their need to keep some aero downforce as it keeps the cars speed up and that is important too. As to the weight, I’m sure little can be done about that if they continue to use the Pus they have, which they are, and also want the cars to continue to be as safe as they are.

          Tires will have to be quite different for cars that will make less wake, be less clean air dependent, and not have drs. Generally the tires will no longer be mandated to be the centre of the whole entity like BE wanted of Pirelli in order to mask the harmful aero downforce addiction that he knew the teams with the power were not going to do anything about on their own.

          Bottom line for me, there are many many iterations of cars that could greatly improve F1 and that have never been tried before as there hasn’t been the motivation within F1 to do so. I predict wings the shape of which we have never seen before in F1, as well as a combination of said wings with floor and diffuser work, the 18” rims, no need for drs, and I don’t expect perfection from Liberty day one in 2021, but I see no reason why they won’t start off their true beginning, post-BE influenced contracts, by creating a much much better base from which to work.

    3. pastaman (@)
      25th March 2019, 2:04

      Agreed, in fact I’m a little disappointed that this site would focus so much on the time delta as if it were a direct comparison. Why is there any need to point it out?

  4. Racing over laptimes anyday!

    1. @Alain I care about both equally.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      24th March 2019, 16:46

      I agree. For me it’s like saying a heavyweight boxer punches much harder than a welterweight and therefore, heavyweight matches are better. That’s not the case however.

      As an engineering exhibition, F1 is miles ahead of Indycar and always will be. As a motorsport event, it’s not so straight-forward. I enjoy watching drivers push their given machinery to it’s limits and battle with other drivers on track – whether that’s in karts, Renault Clios, electric cars or F1 cars, I want to see close battles, great driving and excitement.

      I’m not suggesting other people are wrong – it’s just my opinion. The engineering side, for me, doesn’t make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck but a thrilling, close battle does.

  5. It must suck being Lewis being paid $40 mil or whatever ridiculous amount he makes and also having to have the knowledge to set up his car which his engineers do for barely a fraction of his a wage… Rough life as a F1 driver

    1. Someone didn’t read the article

      1. Someone didn’t care.

  6. One has to wonder whether Ferrari underestimated just how much improvement everyone else would find between the end of testing and the first race.

    Hopefully this won’t lead to one of their classic panic reactions where they try to change everything to catch up. They obviously have a good car – maybe just all they need is a bit more focus and a little less over confidence.

  7. I’m confident that we can come back

    Of course, he’s confident. That 90 Year Old logo was slowing them down. When the Wishin’ Minnows return they’ll be a school of different fish.

  8. Digital Trend article basically said Mercedes is a major data analytic company. So I can understand if why Toto is against mission control restriction. At least until new spending cap had been enforced which might happen by the time their AI analyst had mature after being fed of huge data over the years. Less human is cheaper anyway.

    It would be great if any journalist with comprehensive knowledge of F1 regulation dig deep on how latest technology fare against current regulation. Is the rule had covered it all? Has technology had outsmart it already? I’m intrigued by this line:

    data from the hydraulic differential, which controls torque independently to the rear tires

    What is this? Hydraulic traction control that can be mapped by software?

    1. Hydraulic traction control that can be mapped by software?

      @ruliemaulana – I believe it refers to the rear differential that can be locked, or biased to a side. It’s part of the gearbox.

  9. I agree. I also think Ferrari’s lack of pace in Australia was just a one-off and that they’re going to be back to their usual form in Bahrain similar to last season.

  10. What is wrong with Di Grassi? How can he possibly blame Frijns for being pushed into him by Buemi? That guy really makes a fool of himself.

    1. @mosquito

      said Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler driver Lucas di Grassi furiously as he first encountered Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns moments after the race.

      Humans have this amazing ability where they stare at letters until they start to convey a meaning.

      1. However, they lack the ability to watch a replay from a different perspective without using any kind of technology. In other words: From di Grassi’s perspective inside the cockpit, Frijns’ move was madness, and his anger justified. I’m certain he’ll judge the incident differently after seeing the footage from that angle.

        1. Every experienced driver knows things can look different on first sight.
          Wishing someone a penalty does not sound very mature.
          Brazilian temperament or unbalanced character.. Pick one.

          1. Wishing someone a penalty does not sound very mature.

            Eh? To me, that sounds like the single most understandable reaction in that situation. He was minding his business, eyeing another overtake – and then, from half a mile back, Frijns comes flying and crashes into him, race over. Considering he didn’t know exactly how Frijns lost control of his car so thoroughly, his reaction sounds almost calm. So much more appropriate and mature than, say, shoving your opponent and calling him a female genital.

            Brazilian temperament or unbalanced character.. Pick one.

            Firstly: No, I don’t have to pick one. False dichotomies have no right to be propagated.
            Secondly: That bit about ‘Brazilian temperament’ is an even worse form of cognitive inappropriateness.
            I guess you wouldn’t like it if I said that Frijns’ accident was to be expected, since he usually has a yellow licence plate on his car, which as the neighbouring countries know, is the punishment for failing your driving test twice. Or because he simply failed to take into consideration that the caravan he was towing affected his braking performance. Pick one.
            Sucks to have your (perceived) shortcomings explained by national stereotypes, doesn’t it?

  11. Ves move on Vet was brilliant. Not the move itself but at the same time the warning to Ferrari is there. So the Italians will have a lot stress not to know how good the RB actually is. Panic!

    1. @pietkoster Somewhat aided by a very careful Vettel TBH. I was expecting him to defend to where it ended with contact as he did too many times last couple of years, but it was predictable that he’d be much more careful this year after having learned the hard way that he can’t desperately try to go for every point.

  12. Your thoughts on Jacques Villeneuve’s comments regarding Robert Kubica’s return?

    “I think it’s terrible. This is not good for the sport. I already said that last year and I am not going to change my opinion. Formula 1 should be the pinnacle of racing, it’s the king class.
    “It is not good for the sport if anyone with a disability can participate. At least not in Formula 1, perhaps in other classes. Formula 1 must be tough, must be difficult and almost unreachable. Robert’s return is not the right message.”

    I find these comments deeply distasteful and offensive to disabled and less abled athletes. Motorsport in particular is one of many sports that see disabled people compete (Eg Alex Zanardi, Billy Monger) equally and this should be celebrated!
    Villeneuve’s comments have always been outdated, irrelevant, often offensive but this time he has crossed the line!

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