A Spa Max Verstappen si laurea

Max Verstappen graduates at Spa | FormulaPassion.it

It seemed almost too strong to be true in Friday and Saturday Max Verstappen sessions at Spa-Francorchamps. And instead it was all true, largely. The Belgian track is the one that has consecrated many champions in history, one above all Michael Schumacher and this weekend we can add a name to that list of phenomena that have shown something special on the Ardennes. If anyone still has doubts, Sunday Verstappen entered an Olympus that many still did not recognize him. On the track nicknamed “the University of Formula 1”, the Dutchman took his degree cum laude with a performance from another planet, for everyone, including his teammate. It’s hard to remember a similar performance gap between one rider and everyone else in dry track conditions.

Max always wins, 9 times out of 14 this year, with a car that appeared in amazing form while the main rival, Ferrari, has struggled much more than expected. Even Perez, admittedly in difficulty with the set-up of his car, quietly finished in second place behind his teammate, sealing yet another seasonal double that saw the Anglo-Austrian team superior to all of them. The basis of the superiority of the RB18 was a absolutely unrivaled level of grip for anyone. The tires, in crisis of thermal degradation above all, for Verstappen worked at a level that also minimized the degradation itself. We also studied some images from the outside and, as we had the impression during the test, it is the grip of both the front and rear axles that literally leaves you speechless. Verstappen had a front so precise that it allowed him to attack every corner both in entry and exit, with increasingly narrower trajectories than all rivals, guaranteeing fewer meters after meters. A striking detail at the Source in the close passage with Sainz. The rear, equally glued to the ground, on the one hand followed the front end perfectly without ever breaking down, on the other hand it discharged the torque of the new engine to the ground with such efficiency as to bring the Dutchman to literally leap forward. in every traction phase out of corners.

We had written that the perception was of a Red Bull incredibly on the rails and Verstappen in interviews used the same words, “the car went on the tracks“. Difficult to find a precise technical explanation for such an exaggerated leap in performance by Horner’s team. The Spa track was arguably the best for the RB18, with the optimum downforce level fitting perfectly with the car’s natural setting. A perfect balance, a new Power Unit and a Verstappen in extraterrestrial form then did the rest (we apologize for mentioning the new chassis after qualifying, but we were misled by some sources who already gave it for sure on Red Bull), but finding such a performance is not something for everyone days. Something about how to make the tires work so well was evidently understood at home Red Bullso much so that he continues to win races with a car on average with less load than the opponents, but with so much grip as to guarantee higher travel speeds even in the driven sectors.
Of course the other aspect of the weekend was the performance not up to the expectations of the Ferrari, not only compared to Red Bull but also from the point of view of performance in general. Oddly (and not a great sign) it is the second consecutive race that the feedback from the pilots is very different. Sainz spoke, also in Belgium as in Hungary, of a car that slid and that was therefore overheating the tires. Leclerc, on the other hand, spoke of a good feeling in general, also saying that it is strange to see such a big difference in performance with Red Bull when things were not so bad in the car. It is therefore difficult to draw conclusions from the outside.

The impression was that the F1-75 was lacking a bit in everything. The new hybrid mounted by Leclerc for now did not seem to give particular advantages, the degradation has been defined thermal even in the radio teams, so, theoretically, due to the too much energy that the cars discharged on the tires, but in this case it would not be explained much Sainz’s complaints about slipping. The red then seemed quite conservative on the power side, perhaps already thinking about Monzawhere the team will play their chances at this point save the season in front of the fans. And because of the deliberate low power, perhaps, the very low load package was tried during Friday’s free practice, eventually abandoned because it did not return promising data. The impression was that of a “short blanket” that produced only disadvantages, and all of this ultimately resulted in George’s Mercedes returning to the podium fight. Russellhowever, very well contained by the Spaniard from Ferrari who managed to hold out in a very difficult second part of the race.
The new directive that came into force has been pointed out by many as the cause of the difficulties of the red, but we cannot rely on a race only to draw conclusions, and from the teams all the voices tend to minimize its impact, precisely because this directive and its related controls have been structured. In reality it is precisely because this directive is actually low-impact that we ended up introducing the changes (the substantial ones) for the next year, so it is difficult to think that this is the only reason for the Ferrari debacle (and the phenomenal leap of Red Bull). In general, the Maranello team seemed unable to find that balance between the single-seater and the tires that would make the latter work optimally. The thing, it must be said, scares a little bit in the 14th race of the season, with a car that had been able to think about winning in all 13 previous tracks. And if it is true that Spa it is an atypical track, it must also be said that it is one of the important ones, together with others such as Barcelona and Silverstone, where the goodness of a project is evaluated and in this case, the first time this season, the F1-75 was badly rejected.

Finally a note on the front strategies. The writer has never agreed with the democratic approach on the matter and seeing all those dialogues and questions asked to the pilot during the race, it seems more a response to requests made by the pilot (who obviously does not trust the wall and wants be informed), rather than a concrete way to improve. Many then indicated Leclerc’s last pit stop as yet another huge mistake of the team, but to be honest, bad luck (which in theory does not exist, but a bit of bad luck every now and then yes) took more than one paw. The pit limiter that Leclerc used is the same one he had used in the previous two pit stops without having any problems, and in the end the detected infringement was only 0.1 km / h, since it is expected that there will be no penalty up to 80.9 km / h and Leclerc a speed of 81 was measured. An unnecessary risk? Perhaps, but no more useless than a fifth place with Verstappen first. While we have focused on this alleged error of the pits, what has escaped however is that Leclerc on the last lap, therefore with petrol for only one lap, with almost new soft tire and with a powerful wake from Alonso in the first sector (worth almost 15 km / h), however he recorded a time of over 6 tenths (of which over 3 in the central sector) slower than that recorded by Verstappen 16 laps earlier (which in Spa are more than 100km) with medium tires. This is the measure of the Red Bull advantage in Belgium and the only real criticism of this decision to move to the wall is that of not having understood that we were going to measure and certify the humiliation suffered from the point of view of performance.

TO Zandvoort, next race in a few days, we will have an important counter-proof. The track is completely different from Spa, it requires much more downforce and with much lower travel speed curves. There we will be able to understand if what we saw in Belgium was just a coincidence of “sweet spot”, As the British call it, for Red Bull and a wrong Sunday for Ferrari, or if the new trend will be that of an RB18 that takes technical supremacy for the world championship finale. Speaking of the world championship, at this point only mathematics divides Verstappen from the other graduation this weekend, that of two times World Champion.

FP | Federico Albano

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