How the April break can help Ferrari bounce back in Baku
Former Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley believes the Formula 1 April break could help the team at the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
With the Chinese Grand Prix being cancelled and not replaced on the calendar, there has been a four-week break between the races in Australia and Azerbaijan, with the Baku round taking place this weekend.
As a result, teams have had a month to pour over data from the first three races, which were dominated by the runaway Red Bull squad.
Ferrari have only a best finish of fourth and suffered multiple reliability concerns, including losing both permitted Control Electronics components on Charles Leclerc’s car.
Smedley – who was Felipe Massa’s engineer during his stay at Maranello – has explained how the month-long shutdown could help the team.
Smedley on Ferrari
“Let’s pick on Ferrari for a little bit,” started Smedley on the F1 Nation podcast.
“Ferrari have openly said they’re not optimising their car at the track during the race weekend, or they’ve had reliability struggles as well.
“This gives them a chance to get on top of that, not having this constant cycle of having to have half the brains in your organisation get on an aeroplane and execute a race.
“They’ve got to get their heads down and use their simulation tools, use everything that they’ve got available to try and understand it.
“Certainly you would hope that any little reliability issues that are holding the team back from going flat out, they’ll get around it.
“There’s no guarantees, but we could see some change in that order behind Red Bull.”
Niggles and reliability
Smedley – who also worked with Williams during his spell in F1 – additionally explained how teams can get behind during a hectic schedule of races.
“I’ve been in this situation myself before, with so many races coming at you, when you’ve got little niggles like reliability problems, or you can’t quite understand how to optimise the car, you can never get ahead of it as you’ve got to just get prepped for the next race,” he said.
“And then there’ll be a new set of problems that come up with that and you’re either a week or two into the next one, so you never actually get ahead of it.
“For the more operationally based guys, if there’s any little reliability things, which we’ve seen with Ferrari at the start of the season, this gives them a chance to kind of breathe, to take stock, and to get ahead of those problems.
“So they can come out in Azerbaijan, let’s say with a more optimised and a more reliable package.”