Where Ferrari’s current weaknesses are amid disappointing display in 2023 Bahrain GP
“They have certainly found something” – this was the downbeat conclusion of Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc after the Bahrain Grand Prix ended prematurely for him following a power unit technical issue that forced him to retire on Lap 41 at the Sakhir in the first round of the new Formula 1 championship.
However, Charles’ bitterness was not mainly caused by a new reliability issue for the Maranello team, who had hoped to avoid such problems following the work done during the winter on the engine side, but rather by the huge pace deficit which the SF-23 challenger clearly had against the Red Bull RB19, as the Austrian side easily secured a one-two finish in Bahrain, with Max Verstappen winning ahead of his teammate:
“In some sections the gap with them in terms of pace was about a second,” – a disappointed Charles Leclerc explained, continued, shedding light on the difference between the two cars at the Bahrain International Circuit.
In fact, not only did the lap time and telemetry data confirm Charles Leclerc’s comments, but by carefully looking at the dynamics of the RB19 from the outside, i.e. its perfect balance, one can clearly notice that the new Red Bull car was not at all sensitive to the variation of the fuel load, as explained by technical expert Paolo Filisetti.
This means that the reactivity and the low tyre wear with any type of Pirelli compound is one of the key strengths of the RB19, which was in the winter pre-season testing and even more during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend in Sakhir.
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The RB19 car is not only marked by efficient and refined aerodynamics, but represents the perfect combination between vehicle dynamics, the visible aerodynamic concept and the floor of the car. As a result of such key aspects, Red Bull have managed to design a single-seater that proves to work ideally in any type of situation.
Scuderia Ferrari have to deal with fragility in many key areas
On the other hand, one key aspect, sadly not positive for the Maranello team, that could be observed from the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain and continued during the first race weekend of the 2023 Formula 1 season, is that of a fragility, or rather inadequate consistency, of some parts of the Ferrari SF-23 car.
We recall the issues encountered by Ferrari when trying to test the new single pylon rear wing, that had to quickly be removed from the SF-23 of Charles Leclerc on the last day of testing due to a DRS issue and later due to excessive lateral flexibility, seen in the free practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
In addition to this, there was the aerodynamic crushing of the nose fairing noticed in the first day of pre-season testing, and also the sudden failure of a wheel arch during the qualifying session for the Sakhir event. All of these issues are most likely caused by Ferrari looking for an aggressive weight reduction that affected the efficiency of these components on the SF-23 car.