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Ferrari really has a chance! Balance of power before the start of the Formula 1 season

Date: April 21, 2024 Time: 20:10:05

Formula 1 pre-season testing has ended in Bahrain and this week (Saturday, please note) the first test of the 2024 season will take place there. On the eve of the start of the championship, we offer a brief summary of each team in the peloton and the estimated balance of power.

How were the preseason tests:

Hope only for Ferrari? Mercedes and McLaren were disappointing. Analysis of F1 tests

Red Bull is the absolute favorite

Even before the start of winter testing, Red Bull was considered the main favorite in the fight for the championship, and after the debut of the RB20, only a few doubt the upcoming victory of the Austrians. The new car is fast and reliable, and Max Verstappen is completely satisfied with how it handles: “It does everything I tell it to,” boasted the Dutchman. “19 out of 20 drivers already know that this year they will not be Formula 1 champions,” concluded Fernando Alonso.

In reality, however, everything may not be so rosy for Red Bull. The publication Race calculates the advantage of the Austrians at four tenths of a second and Helmut Marko at three. At the same time, like Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari did not show their true maximum in testing, and it is not a fact that the RB20 will be equally good on all tracks: the weekend in Singapore last year was for the current champions. problematic.

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Ferrari is the best hope.

Most experts agree that Ferrari is the closest to Red Bull at the moment. The main goal of the Maranello engineers was to improve the car’s handling and, judging by the drivers’ feedback, they achieved this. The less the car slides in the corners, the longer the tires will last and the more stable the drivers’ pace will be throughout the course. And maybe they will have the opportunity to compete with Red Bull.

Gary Anderson, Jordan’s former technical director, is confident that the fight between Ferrari and Red Bull will be close. He observes very strong long stretches during the race simulations and is also confident that on a fast lap the Ferrari did not show its true potential and could have gone almost half a second faster. If this is true, then the Scuderia will really have a chance to compete with Red Bull.

George Russell testing in Bahrain

Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Mercedes is a dark horse

Many experts (but not all!) place Mercedes in third place. The German team finally said goodbye to its previous chassis and prepared a completely new one for the 2024 season. Due to the unusual shape of the front wing fins, rivals have already tried to protest against the W15, but the FIA ​​believes that the design of the car is currently within the rules. At the same time, Mercedes surprised the paddock with an adaptive front suspension.

The car itself looks really impressive, but it has not yet demonstrated really high speed. Russell made a fast lap only at the end of the tests, and in it George lost to Leclerc, who had shown his some time before, in less favorable conditions. Furthermore, in long series of laps, Mercedes was about half a second behind Ferrari, so it is not yet among the title contenders.

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McLaren is behind the giants

This winter a lot was expected from McLaren, which at the end of last season was the closest to Red Bull. But Woking was remembered mainly for its unreliability, something uncharacteristic of modern Formula 1: the car broke down on two out of three days and came second to last in terms of laps completed. It is true that compared to the Mercedes, the McLaren chassis has not changed that much and therefore the problems do not seem critical.

At the same time, Lando Norris openly stated that McLaren is still “quite a bit” inferior to Red Bull and Ferrari. In terms of pace on long stretches, McLaren is also slightly behind Mercedes, although it is still difficult to identify a leader between this pair. Let’s not forget either that at the presentation of the new car Andrea Stella admitted that the engineers could not implement all of his ideas.

More was expected from McLaren during testing

Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

“Aston Martin”: no more miracles expected

A year ago, the main surprise was Aston Martin: Lawrence Stroll’s team, from a hardened middle peasant, overnight became the main pursuer of Red Bull. By mid-season, Aston Martin had slowed down a bit, but was able to establish itself in the top five of the peloton. This year the team is not expected to make progress similar to last year, but it is expected to remain in the first half of the standings.

In pre-season testing in Bahrain, Aston Martin did not show any outstanding speed, but experts note that the AMR24 seemed stable and obedient on the track. The British team may have hidden the true pace behind the large amount of fuel in the tanks, but it seems more likely that the engineers have failed to make progress. On the other hand, according to Dan Fallows, the new chassis has more development potential.

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“RB” is a notable step forward

In the second half of the peloton during pre-season testing, RB (formerly Alpha Tauri) made an excellent impression: every day, the Faenza team was in the top 5 in terms of the best lap and was able to overtake McLaren and “Aston Martin “. It’s unlikely that RB is really that fast, but Yuki Tsunoda’s race simulation was only slightly slower than Fernando Alonso’s simulation.

There is an opinion that the senior team, Red Bull, helped RB. Daniel Ricciardo disagrees with him and claims that VCARB 01 is a development of AT04. And here it’s hard to argue with the Australian: the sidepods, fins and smaller elements of the car are even visually different from what we saw on last year’s RB19. It is even more surprising to see in the performances of the “RB” the pace that its drivers were able to demonstrate.

“RB” and “Kick-Sauber” were a pleasant surprise

Photo: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

“Kick-Sauber” – from outsiders to middle peasants

Another team at the back of the pack that performed well in testing is Kick-Sauber. As the team’s technical director, James Key, said at the presentation of the C44, only some details at the rear are similar to last year’s car. Otherwise, this is a completely new car, and already on the second day of testing, when the mechanics installed a new underbody, the experts noted that the car was more stable and more obedient than its predecessor.

When the tests were completed, Kick-Sauber was in third position in terms of best lap: the time that Zhou showed at the end of the races on soft tires turned out to be better than that of Red Bull! This can easily be explained by the fact that the rivals did not make their qualifying attempts at the most optimal time, but Hinwil’s achievements should not diminish: the team has a real chance to get out of the group of outsiders.

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“Williams” – in the same place

Williams drove the least during pre-season testing: it is the only team in the championship that did not complete 300 laps in three days. For any other team, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but Williams, like some of its rivals, completely rebuilt the car ahead of the 2024 season, and for the engineers, the testing was a missed opportunity to learn about the car.

During all the tests, the Williams drivers only had one really fast lap, when on the afternoon of the third day Alexander Albon took sixth place. In the first two days, Williams was only the eighth or ninth fastest team. At the moment, not even Grove knows what the new Williams is really capable of, while at the same time there is no reason to believe that the team will be able to improve last year’s seventh place finish.

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“Haas” – tires are good

Haas’ Achilles’ heel last year, literally and figuratively, was tire wear: in qualifying, Hulkenberg and Magnussen sometimes even managed to make it to the third segment, but in the races, both drivers inevitably fell back again and again. . But the good news is that during the tests no such problems with the tires arose. The bad: Haas never showed his previous speed during the three days of racing.

The American team’s engineers are happy: they seem to have managed to correct the car’s main drawback. However, what good will it do if Haas loses its previous speed in one lap and remains last in the Constructors’ Championship? We think the car still has speed; Otherwise, the 2024 season could be the beginning of the end for Gene Haas’ long-suffering creation.

Alpin can be at the bottom of the table

Photo: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

Alpin is a complete disappointment.

Alpin was the most disappointing this winter. The car is not very fast, it does not handle well and it is not very durable. Thus, in terms of the best lap during the three days of testing, the new Alpin car turned out to be the slowest, and in terms of kilometers traveled it was among the top three, from the end. Furthermore, Ocon and Gasly were clearly uncomfortable behind the wheel: the car behaved nervously and did not allow the drivers to attack at the limit.

According to the German publication Auto Motor und Sport, the new Alpin car also disappointed the team itself. Its main disadvantages are excess weight and poor aerodynamics. AMuS writes that if Alpin fails to resolve the problems in the first races, heads will roll at Enstone (once again). How can we not remember that Ocon told Sky Sports journalist David Croft in January that the A524 was slow?

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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