(L to R): Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Red Bull Ring, 2022

Ferrari believe their performance deficit to Red Bull is now “negligible”

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Ferrari believe the performance deficit they had to the Red Bull cars earlier in the season has been effectively neutralised by a rear wing update.

The Scuderia heads to this weekend’s French Grand Prix seeking their third grand prix victory in a row following wins at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring.

Team principal Mattia Binotto says the performance gap between the cars has closed since the team revised the design of its rear wing.

“I think in terms of pure speed [the cars are] very similar and quali is proving it,” he said. “I don’t think there is much difference between the two cars.”

Ferrari had a slight advantage over Red Bull on tyre degradation in Austria, said Binotto. Charles Leclerc followed Max Verstappen home in Saturday’s sprint race but Ferrari’s tyre superiority was “more evident” in the grand prix, he explained.

“We started pushing, putting pressure on Max at the restart and forcing him to have more pace and more pace was more degrading the tyres. So I think what we saw in the sprint has been more obvious because we put more pressure on.”

The team’s latest upgrade has addressed its most significant deficit to its rivals, said Binotto.

“We had a disadvantage compared to the Red Bull, no doubt, in terms of straight-line speed especially in DRS zones, so in terms of the power of the DRS compared to ours.

“We worked a lot on it, built a new rear wing that we introduced as first only on one example, which was on Charles’ [car] in Canada. We’ve had it on both cars since the UK and with that new rear wing.”

He believes there is now little to choose between the two teams. “We simply reduced the gap. We closed the gap, we had more speed. I think they’ve still got a slight advantage, but very little or negligible, it’s why in the power we are very close. Then it’s only about the grip limit in the cornering where we can make the difference.”

Leclerc said the team’s overall competitive was “not a surprise because we’ve been working very hard”, though he admitted he hadn’t expected how much stronger they were on Sunday in Austria compared to the day before. “We seem to have picked up a bit more pace compared to them,” he acknowledged.

However Leclerc pointed out the team had also been competitive in earlier races which they failed to win.

“I think Barcelona was one of those races where we were very strong, Monaco was one of those races where we were very strong. But since those races, this has been the first time where we were actually quite a bit quicker,” he said.

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2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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27 comments on “Ferrari believe their performance deficit to Red Bull is now “negligible””

  1. Technically maybe, strategically nope :)

    1. I agree on the strategy part. Technically I feel they are being modest. It seems the Ferrari is the faster car, but one of the RB drivers is quite well at maximizing race pace on Sunday, except for last race.

      1. It seems the Ferrari is the faster car, but one of the RB drivers is quite well at maximizing race pace on Sunday, except for last race.

        One of the RB drivers tends to Maximise is his pace at the expense of degrading his tyres – a detail Ferrari have apparently clicked on to.
        The problem for Ferrari is that their problems are in the garage.

    2. Agree. It doesn’t matter if Ferrari are a few tenths quicker in quali or the race. At the end of the day, Binotto’s squad will hand victory to Red Bull on a silver platter. Binotto has made Ferrari a joke, I doubt Red Bull will ever fear Ferrari as a competitor like they did Mercedes. They’re competing against a non championship challenging team this year.

    3. Yeah, as both of you mention, the team in how it operates would still be a clear advantage at red bull, with smoother pit-stops and better strategic thinking and timely reactions to what is going on.

    4. Just a pity that the Ferrari is so unreliable, and with further engine penalties to come, the title is in Verstappen’s trophy cabinet already.

  2. It has been nice having a decent scrap at the front! They’re both great cars, still plenty of races to go.

  3. Only for Ferrari messing up strategy calls we would probably be having an even closer battle than last year.
    I’m hoping for an incident free Quali and race in France where Max and Charles can go at it again.

    1. We could do with Sainz to have a trouble free weekend too and take some points off Verstappen. Maybe one of the Mercedes might get involved this weekend too or at least make the strategy at the front more interesting by being in their pit window longer.

    2. G But that is selective re-writing of history. We could easily also say if only Max hadn’t had the dnfs he did at the start of the season. It is what it is.

      But yeah I agree an incident free battle for good apples to apples comparisons is always best.

      @slowmo Imho the only way Sainz is going to be taking points off Max is if his car is clearly better on a given Sunday or if Max has an issue. On average Max/RBR > Sainz/Ferrari.

      1. Yes, like austria, where the degradation was a lot better for ferrari.

        I think the other person makes a good point about “if ferrari hadn’t had their strategical mess-ups”, because BOTH verstappen and leclerc lost a lot of points through unreliability, but leclerc ALSO lost a lot through bad strategic calls.

        Ferrari is ferrari and this had to be considered before the season started, so wouldn’t call verstappen undeserving over that, we’re just saying there could’ve been more competition.

      2. @Robbie
        It is what it is, same as last year. I’m just saying if Ferrari had been on it a bit more, then the championship battle would have more tension.
        @Esploratore
        Yes, the gap would be a lot smaller as Max would have scored less at the same time as Leclerc scoring more without the strategic blunders.

  4. Good, now I hope RB can solve their tire-degradation issue so we can have real wheel-to-wheel racing for the rest of the season :)

    1. I don’t think they have any major issues… I just think that with one practice session to get their setup sorted in Austria, they pushed too hard towards performance (as we saw, they had great pace in quali) but it was too much for the tyres in the race.

      Ferrari on the other hand, sacrificed a little “ultimate” pace to ensure they had less deg and it allowed them dominate the race.

      1. And this is a good thing of the sprints imo, or more specifically, a bad thing about having too many free practice sessions: by limiting practice, performance can then be more volatile in the race.

  5. Good – hopefully we can have back-to-back close seasons.

    Even if it doesn’t quite work that way, the midfield battle is so close that I reckon this season will be highly regarded for wheel-to-wheel racing.

  6. I don’t think there’s been much of a “performance deficit” for Ferrari all year… There’s been a reliability deficit for sure but on performance alone, the two cars have been pretty even – perhaps even with Ferrari shading it.

    Red Bull have been faster some weekends but Ferrari have been faster plenty of times as well. Their trouble is that when they are faster, they usually find a way to throw points away either through poor reliability, poor teamwork or stunningly bad strategy calls. Even in Austria where they picked up the win, they threw points away in the sprint and then had Sainz retire in the race allowing Max to score additional points.

    As we’ve often seen in recent years, Ferrari’s biggest challenge isn’t beating Max – it’s trying to not beat themselves….

    1. Quite to the point, yes @petebaldwin

    2. And even if you go back 1 more race to silverstone, you have again a ferrari win but bad strategy call, throwing away precious points in the driver’s championship.

  7. It’s still gonna be very track-dependant whether Ferrari can match Red Bull or vice versa. As I expected pre-race, Austria was never going to be a “Red Bull” track with their current car. They did well their in the old car, but since they moved away from that concept and have a car that excels more at high speed cars, the Austrian track was never going to play to those strength.

    And besides, Austria might have been a win for Charles, it saw another Ferrari engine blow-out, and several Ferrari engines with issues, including Charles’ throttle issues. So that general speed-matching appears to come at a severe reliability penalty.

  8. Stating the obvious here but RBR won’t be sitting on their hands either. I’ve read they will have a new floor this weekend, and changes to their sidepods are pending, all the while still working at losing more weight. Binotto speaks of the performance difference being negligible while giving the nod to RBR for still having a slight edge, and that is just not going to cut it against Max/RBR. They’ll need to get themselves clearly faster and/or better on tires ala Austria if they are going to make inroads on Max and his lead.

    1. @Robbie, it will be interesting to see whether either (or any) team has to reign in their development later in the season – surely some must be approaching budget caps given the amount of new bits they keep throwing at their cars.

      Potentially, that could make a big difference later in the season, but on the face of it I just can’t see Ferrari reeling RBR in (or Charles reeling in Max) as the gap is too big. Ferrari just seem to fall short in strategy too many times, and with their reliability woes, it would be a miracle if they even get close enough to make it interesting in the second half of the season.

      1. Yes, it’s interesting to consider as it never happened before that there’s such a limitation to the amount you can spend in a season, even when you can afford more, so there’s an element of cost management as well with upgrades.

        Hopefully they can at least make it interesting in a race-by-race kind of thing: 2019 ferrari wasn’t a title contender, but they’ve been in with win chances since early in the season (like bahrain with leclerc’s non-terminal engine issue) and finally ended up winning 3 races in a row mid season, they could do even better this year even if they fail at competing for title.

      2. @dbradock Yeah hard to say. Proper budgeting is meant to take care of the concern about running out of money before the season’s end, with each development measure accounted for throughout, such that having to stop developing shouldn’t have to happen. Especially now that the teams have been given some assistance with the unforeseen inflation issue. I also think it is possible some teams have planned to have some money to spend near the end for either a late season push or the ability to react to another teams late push.

        As to Ferrari (CL) reeling in RBR (Max) yeah I agree that seems a tall order but then there is so much of the season to go, and you know…the old one dnf for Max and a win for CL and suddenly overnight it’s a different story. But yeah, averaging things out, and considering all aspects, it does seem like advantage RBR.

  9. At this moment it’s advantage Ferrari possible when it’s warm to hot as the tyres comes to the front. I don’t see any ‘cold’ races at the moment so Charles should have it or Red Bull can do something about the tyre wear. Maybe during rain we can count that as cold …. I think Canada was 1 of the “coldest” we saw.

    But it could be a setup issue (the wrong way) we have to wait and see.

    1. @macleod I’d be surprised if RBR suddenly has tire wear issues and Ferrari the upper hand in that category. I think Austria surprised them, and that’s the point. It was a surprise, as in, not something they’re used to. I don’t think this is now a new norm for them and they will have learned by now what happened.

      1. @Robbie
        I think you are right as there were other races that Ferrari were suffering deg and Redbull weren’t. It seems to be fine margins for the teams to get the setup just right.

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