DRS push wiped out Red Bull’s top speed advantage in F1
The two championship contenders started the 2022 F1 season with very different car characteristics, although on lap time there was little to separate them.
The Ferrari was better on slow and medium speed corners, while Red Bull held a clear advantage on the straights and hard corners.
But, as the campaign developed and both teams tweaked their cars to counter their main rival, their performance dynamics converged – with Ferrari as quick as Red Bull on the straights in Austria on Last weekend.
Ferrari believe a new low-drag wing that was first used by Charles Leclerc at the Canadian Grand Prix has taken a decisive step in eliminating Red Bull’s top speed advantage, especially when the DRS was open.
Asked by Autosport if the balance of performance between the two teams has changed now, Mattia Binotto said: “We had a disadvantage against Red Bull, without a doubt, in terms of straight-line speed – especially in the areas DRS.
“In terms of the strength of their DRS, compared to ours, we worked a lot on it. So the new rear wing that we introduced first with Charles in Canada, we have it on both cars since the UK.
“And with this new rear wing, I think we just closed the gap we had in terms of speed. I think they still have a slight advantage, but it’s very little or negligible.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
Photo by: Ferrari
Switching to a low-drag wing, rather than just losing downforce, has ensured Ferrari doesn’t sacrifice the strength it has had several times this year with tire degradation.
Binotto believes that in terms of traction, nothing separates the Ferrari and the Red Bull. However, he believes Leclerc and Sainz are better able to exploit a grip advantage their car appears to have.
“In limited power [corners], we are very close,” he said. “Then it’s only in corners with limited grip that we can make a difference.
“I think [in Austria] we were fast, not just because of the car, but because I think both drivers had a fantastic weekend in terms of car balance, car set-up, tire understanding, tire management and driving on the track.
Ferrari’s new low-drag rear wing aims to deliver the best performance on medium-downforce tracks, with the team realizing Red Bull’s package had previously given it a significant advantage.
Speaking of the wing recently, Claudio Albertini, Ferrari Race Operations Manager, said: “It’s for medium downforce, similar to what we used for example in Miami or Australia, that kind of of track.
“So [we are] keeping this level of downforce, and we will work on efficiency to have a more efficient rear wing.
When asked if drag reduction was something the team had targeted on its own, or was a response to Red Bull’s advantage, Albertini said: “With developments sometimes you realize [things] when you race. You can see how you compare to other teams and where you can improve.
“We could see that, for example in top speed, that was an area where there was room for improvement and we improved efficiency for that reason.