Ferrari can’t match Red Bull’s tyre management in “unexpected situations”

2022 United States Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says Ferrari have improved their tyre management but they can’t match Red Bull in some track conditions.

Leclerc has stood on the podium in each of the last five grands prix but Red Bull won all of the last eight. The Ferrari driver has only converted two of his eight over poles this season into victories.

Speaking ahead of last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, Leclerc singled out tyre management as a key area Ferrari must work on. He thinks gains have been made but Ferrari is still being out-performed.

“I think for communication, strategy et cetera, that’s been a few races now that we’ve been working on it, and I’ve already seen positive signs. So that is good,” he said.

“Then there’s the tyre management, as we’ve seen in the last races where this is a bit more difficult. We need to identify all the causes of it. But this is continuous work that we are doing, and that we are getting better at. I think we’ve seen it this year, in some races we’ve been very good with tyre management, the only thing we need is to be good in very specific situations.

“Like in Japan, Sunday was a bit cooler, obviously it was raining also. And then when it’s a bit of an unexpected situation, that’s where we probably are not as good as maybe Red Bull is. So on that we need to work.”

After finishing third in the United States Grand Prix, Leclerc underlined his belief tyre management is still one of Ferrari’s key deficits.

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“I’m satisfied in a way because we started P12, so a podium is a good achievement,” said Leclerc. “But looking at the race, it’s obviously a little bit disappointing.

“We had the pace, but then we had a little bit too much deg towards the end of the race. But we’ll work and, at the end, P3 starting [from] P12 is not that bad.”

“With the tyre deg you keep working with the steering wheel, which makes it even more difficult, but it was quite a nice battle with Checo [Perez] and then later on with Max [Verstappen],” he added.

“We need to keep working in order to challenge them a bit more towards the end of the races.”

A mid-race Safety Car period helped those prolonging their opening stints to manage their tyres. But Leclerc pitted from the lead for new tyres once the Safety Car came out and rejoined the race in fourth place, a gain of two places from where he was before drivers started pitting.

“We got a bit lucky with the Safety Car at the right time for us, which put us back into the race. But then unfortunately we suffered a little bit too much tyre degradation to fight for higher places. It is an improvement but we need to do all the steps.

“I was quite confident that a podium was possible if we were doing everything perfect. Looking back, I think communication strategy has been the right one. Tyre management, we still need to do a step as I said, but we are working in the right direction.”

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2022 United States Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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12 comments on “Ferrari can’t match Red Bull’s tyre management in “unexpected situations””

  1. that’s where we probably are not as good as maybe Red Bull is

    Not as good as Red Bull, or not as good as Max? Because The Tyre Whisperer Perez is losing 5-10 seconds over stint length to Max in the same car. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that it’s not Ferrari which is worse in tyre management than Red Bull, but actually Leclerc who’s lacking when compared to Max?

    1. @armchairexpert For every France 2021, Leclerc has had a Silverstone 2020, a Portugal 2020, a Spain 2021, a USGP 2021, even the first stint in Austin last weekend. He is not the greatest at tyre management, but he’s not worse than the car he is being offered.

      As for Perez, he’s generally slower than Max, but unlike other drivers, rarely seems to hit a cliff, so he can sometimes continue for longer at the same, steady pace.

    2. You have two choices within the tyre temperature window; drive faster and lose more rubber so you fall out of it sooner (but are quicker overall), or drive a little slower so the tyres last longer, which might open up strategy options. No point in Perez doing the same as Verstappen and he seems naturally good at extending tyre life.

      The advantage RB have (and Mercedes are/were extremely good at this) is their strength in balancing mechanical grip and brake tyre heating with aerodynamic tyre cooling, so the tyres sit in the window for more of the lap from track to track. Ferrari aren’t so good at this, but it doesn’t matter for qualifying pace.

    3. really? MAX fan there?> If you compare Perez with Leclerc then you have no clue about F1. If you watched Austria you could see that RBR got the balance wrong and their tyre deg was worse than Ferrari, as result Leclerc passed by MAX 3 times.

    4. I think it is tyre pressure trickery.

    5. Obviously perez is slow enough compared to verstappen that it’s possible to beat him sometimes on a ferrari, but the car seems significantly quicker, or as leclerc says better with tyres, perez himself showed that in some moments of the race, he shouldn’t have been as close as he was.

  2. Think it would be fair to say that Ferrari started the season with good drivers, a good engine, and a good single-lap car, but were rather lacking in tyre management and race strategy. Their strengths flattered them and raised expectations (and dare I say it hopes), but rather highlighted their weaknesses.

  3. “And then when it’s a bit of an unexpected situation, that’s where we probably are not as good as maybe Red Bull is.”

    And then there’s Ferrari being good at creating unexpected situations for themselves.

  4. The new technical directive regarding ride height completely wrecked their settings.

    The one having issues with tyres earlier on was Sainz, and Leclerc was far and away the fastest driver along with verstappen. Now he had half the race to catch Hamilton and couldnt do even that because he was nursing the tyres.

    1. Indeed, I think they denied that, but I wouldn’t trust too much what ferrari says regarding that stuff, seeing the comments they make after they lose a race on strategy.

  5. Obviously. The tyres are one their main problems for years, this year included. This issue means inconsistent pace, which leads to questionable strategies and tyre changes etc. Also affected negatively VET’s campaigns from 2017-2019.

    1. True, I remember something, this also cost raikkonen his win at monza 2018, he said the car pace was good till the end but he ran out of tyres 8 laps to go, the race where mercedes used bottas to try and slow him down to give hamilton a chance to pass.

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