Formula 1 2024: Ferrari's Return to Glory. Possibly. Ok, Unlikely.

Nick Kaufman

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Testing concluded yesterday and Ferrari did post some fast times. The most encouraging sign was that the car really does seem to be far more steady and less detrimental to the tires, so Ferrari seemed to be more competitive in terms of race pace. Still, the overall feeling is that Red Bull is still comfortably ahead from the rest and maybe they held up a little. Mercedes and McLaren may also have improved this year.

Only a dew days to find out for sure!
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Well, I guess Christian Horner didn't do a bad thing. Maybe? Or some money changed hands?

What a weird story. Pretty odd to get one of these men-behaving-badly things but not to get at least some rumors. But I suppose we move on, and he may or may not be a bad guy.

There's a bit of a "nothing to see here, move along" quality to Red Bulls' statements, but who the heck knows. I'm surprised that none of the other teams leaded something. Pretty good PR containment I guess. Once the racing starts it disappears I assume.
 

SocrManiac

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I don't think it was really that quiet. Lewis Hamilton commented, Zak Brown is in on it, FIA talked about it a couple of times.

Beyond that, there were plenty of conspiracy theories on what "actually" went down, with tales of Jos and Max trying to force him out for Helmut, blah blah blah. It's still been quite messy.
 

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Digging into the data, Mercedes are just 0.08s off Red Bull in terms of qualifying simulation – marking them out as potential challengers for the front row. Trackside chief Andrew Shovlin said that after the test, they were “most concerned about our single lap pace” and after having both drivers in the sim between the test and this weekend, based on Thursday’s running “it looks like we have improved”.


The race pace isn’t quite so good, though, with our data putting Mercedes third, behind Red Bull and Ferrari, 0.31s off the pace. “We need to keep our heads down, keep working on the set-up,” said Hamilton when we chatted post session. “Our long-run pace is nowhere near the Red Bull.”
https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.practice-debrief-no-one-expected-mercedes-at-the-top-is-the-red-bull.6vD7dqdk2khQAjkbnz0QWu.html
 
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mikeot

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Reminder that due to Ramadan being observed, both the Bahrain and Saudi Grands Prix will be seen Saturday mornings on the US East Coast.
 

SocrManiac

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I can’t recall the last time a Q2 lap was faster than a Q3 lap that didn’t involve rain. Leclerc had pole with his Q2 lap.
 

Silverdude2167

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If I am remembering correctly from watching live, Leclerc was up on Max in P3 after the second section, he must have really fucked up the final turn
 

Beomoose

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There's a universe where Gunther got his way and he's leading the Haas-Alfa Romeo team today with Binotto as a consultant. Sigh
 

Nick Kaufman

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Grande Ferrari. They fixed the problem with instability only to discover the car sucks when it’s dealing with dirty air.
 

Silverdude2167

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Tell Max the wrong dates for the races, just let him drive the track alone (it won't be any different for him).

Then there are 5 to 7 cars that will have a great fight in each race.
 

Chainsaw318

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The Red Bull story continues to devolve. ESPN and other reporting Red Bull has suspended Horners accuser, with pay.

heard a little about the texts. Thought they wouldn’t be sex pest stuff, but of course they were.
Poor Ginger Spice, trotted out there at the race last week.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I wonder if the suspension is related to the release of the texts.

You really have to give credit to Horner's legal team for being able to put the hammer down on the texts. Clearly they are threatening anyone and everyone, or else we would have seen them by now. The international aspects are interesting. Defamation law is very favorable for media in the U.S., especially where public figures are concerned. If this were just a U.S. story, I expect we would have seen them by now but whomever publishes them has to be concerned about being hailed into court in the U.K. Even for publication in the U.S., you can be subject to U.K. defamation law if the plaintiff makes a good case that the injury was sustained there. You'd think that U.K. law would be favorable to media given how out of control their press can seem at times, but one of the big differences is that in the U.K. a publisher bears some of the burden of proof on key elements.

Many outlets are reporting that the AP has not verified the source of the texts and so I get that people are reluctant to release them. What's interesting to me is that if the accuser has indeed been suspended for releasing the texts, that seems to suggest they are sourced. Although obviously we don't know what we don't know. Maybe some aspects of the texts are not legitimate and that is why they have not yet been reported.

The aspect of the story that is most crazy is that supposedly the woman involved was also involved with Max's dad, and some are reporting that's partly why he hates Horner.
 

SocrManiac

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I’m unable to find the article now, but a UK lawyer chimed in saying that suspending an employee with pay was SOP while there is ongoing litigation. If she’s continuing to sue, this would be a normal step in the process.
 

Chainsaw318

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A F1 podcast I listen to called Red Bull racing “medieval company”. The king died, and within a year, his lieutenants are knifing each other.

definitely feels likes it Horner vs. Helmut Marko and Jos.
 

teddykgb

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More news today that Marko may be in serious trouble and Verstappen making it as clear as he can that he’s not a big fan of that.

It’s absolutely fascinating that they’re so hellbent on keeping Horner that they’d risk Verstappen. Maybe they’re calling his bluff but it seems to me that that guy is the whole team and if he wants Horner out the only question should be how many hours he’d like to wait before it happens. He’s crushing absolutely everyone, including his teammate in the same car.

Selfishly, I’d love to see a world where Verstappen goes and drives for Mercedes or AM or something just to see just how good he is but I can’t believe RB are willing to play chicken with their meal ticket. Unless you have fairly definite proof that this entire ordeal is fabricated I can’t understand how this juice is worth the squeeze
 

SocrManiac

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I think F1 is in trouble. The only way a second season of Max dominance is remotely interesting to casual fans if he’s running the table, and even then they won’t get eyes until later in the season.

This is the only drama the sport has available right now to the wider audience, and it isn’t going to appeal to everyone (myself included). The only thing that’s going to stop Verstappen is mechanical issues, and they’ve been remarkably robust of late.
 

Beomoose

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I think F1 is in trouble. The only way a second season of Max dominance is remotely interesting to casual fans if he’s running the table, and even then they won’t get eyes until later in the season.

This is the only drama the sport has available right now to the wider audience, and it isn’t going to appeal to everyone (myself included). The only thing that’s going to stop Verstappen is mechanical issues, and they’ve been remarkably robust of late.
At this point F1 seems resigned to waiting for the new rules package to shake up the field. Over the history of the series, this sometimes works to break up periods of dominance and sometimes does not, but if they're unwilling to make any other play then this is all we have. Of course, if Reb Bull's civil war causes the team(s) to implode they get a shakeup for "free."
 

teddykgb

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I think F1 is in trouble. The only way a second season of Max dominance is remotely interesting to casual fans if he’s running the table, and even then they won’t get eyes until later in the season.

This is the only drama the sport has available right now to the wider audience, and it isn’t going to appeal to everyone (myself included). The only thing that’s going to stop Verstappen is mechanical issues, and they’ve been remarkably robust of late.
Agree that it’s already basically background noise to put on waiting to hear if Verstappen has crashed or has a problem. Otherwise there’s not much point to all of it because the combo of Verstappen and that Red Bull is just too insurmountable for anyone on that grid.

I suspect you’ll disagree with me given the other shared sport we follow but this to me is the downside to capping spending. I’ve come to appreciate f1 as an engineering competition and would be legitimately interested in seeing Mercedes and Ferrari try to spend their way into innovations that actually catch them up. Right now the engineering competition is essentially just ver because there’s very little chance anyone can afford to iterate and try innovative concepts that might claw back the large amount of time necessary to catch that Rb. I’m sure I’ll be reading about upgrades teams are planning as soon as after this race but I can’t imagine anyone catching up.
 

SocrManiac

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A team doesn’t just have to match the RB right now. They need a better car, because they won’t have the driver. The delta between Perez and Verstappen suggests that the best current car has the best current driver by a significant margin.

Why has the capped spending been so dreadfully unsuccessful? I’m sure I could and should research this on my own, but the field seems too spread for the model to be effective. Does Newey start the team so far down the third base path that an individual can jump the development budget that far? I’m fairly well-versed in automotive concepts, but RB’s pull-rod suspension is so chaotically complicated it hurts my brain. A bunch of teams have adopted it but haven’t yet seen the benefit.

It would be interesting if teams could ”spend” constructor’s points on additional development money. Hell, let the constructor’s points go negative if needed and pay a penalty at the end of the season if they haven’t won at least back to zero.
 

teddykgb

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A team doesn’t just have to match the RB right now. They need a better car, because they won’t have the driver. The delta between Perez and Verstappen suggests that the best current car has the best current driver by a significant margin.

Why has the capped spending been so dreadfully unsuccessful? I’m sure I could and should research this on my own, but the field seems too spread for the model to be effective. Does Newey start the team so far down the third base path that an individual can jump the development budget that far? I’m fairly well-versed in automotive concepts, but RB’s pull-rod suspension is so chaotically complicated it hurts my brain. A bunch of teams have adopted it but haven’t yet seen the benefit.

It would be interesting if teams could ”spend” constructor’s points on additional development money. Hell, let the constructor’s points go negative if needed and pay a penalty at the end of the season if they haven’t won at least back to zero.
Part of the problem appears to be that Verstappen is just that good. He's routinely cleaning his teammate's clock and if Verstappen didn't exist the Constructors and WDC would be far more competitive than it is. That guy is spending his nights doing sim racing, he's like some kind of racing cyborg and at this point seems to be so far ahead of everyone. Maybe online racers are the new market efficiency and Sauber should grab whomever actually gives him a race online and throw them in a car for the entertainment.

The cost cap seems too restrictive for what it is actually trying to do. Since many of the top teams were spending well over the cost cap before it was implemented, they are basically spending to the cap already on their existing development paths. There just isn't room to develop things that might radically alter the car. Probably they should be more experimental than they are given just how far ahead Red Bull is but everyone seems willing to fight for 2nd/3rd in the Constructors and just assume RB will drive off. I know Red Bull's cost cap penalty reduced their wind tunnel time but these cars spend a really ridiculously limited amount of time actually being driven and there really isn't a way to stay compliant with it and design things which might fail spectactularly or succeed spectacularly. It seems like it is destined to box teams into iterative improvements because they're "safe" and more affordable. It is a real shame, for instance, that we didn't really get to see Mercedes just throw a ton of money at making zero pod work because we might have been able to see two completely different approaches to building an F1 car competing. Instead they tried their best to make it work while they were committed to it (too much money to revamp) and then ultimately they went b spec and they're just another somewhat fast car trailing everyone else. They need to find some way to foster real innovation within the boundaries of the competitive balance they're trying to enforce. Having said all that, i bet the people at the backmarker teams are probably pretty happy with the cost cap. It provides real certainty and has made investing in those teams a way different proposition than it was before. They're still not competitive, but at least the owners and investors know exactly what they'll cost. Which I suspect was the point all along, as it's allowed a bunch of rich people to be more rich while convincing the fans of the sport they're doing it for competitive purposes.
 

tmracht

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SIM racers have tried to break into the actual sport quite a few times, they've had varied success. Rudy van Buren went so far to get hired by McLaren to give feedback to the engineering team and even made it into the Porsche cup. Of course coming off the heels of Lucas Ordonez, Jann Mardenborough and Ricardo Sanchez success from GT Academy. Ceb Bolukbasi even made it as far as Formula 2 coming out of Formula Renault Esport Series, where he struggled. Max is just a different beast.
 

Nick Kaufman

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All this discussion about lifting the cap would have made sense if we weren't able to know Formula 1 history. The gap separating the field has shrunk over time and the current regulations have helped. I do suspect however that increased reliability is producing less variance in the form of less accidents, mechanical failures, driver errors, bad pit stops etc and that makes races more boring. Also, the 2023 red bull not only had faster race pace, but lower tire degradation which made it impossible to get caught.

Some charts I 've found on the net:

This chart compares the median qualifying gaps from 2015 to 2023 .




The chart below compares the gap between pole time and the slowest qualifying time from 2012 to 2023.




And finally, from a reddit thread:



I created this chart using all qualifying laptimes since 1950. The colorful left side shows how far off P2, P3, P4, etc. typically were from pole that season, with the color bar dying off at 2%. The right side shows the distribution of all qualifying laptimes compared to pole at every race.

1% is a bit more than 1 second around Spa and less than 7 tenths in Austria.

Pre-2006 is straightforward: whether qualifying was single- or multi-session, every driver could compete in all of them, so quali gaps were plotted as-is.

Since 2006 and the elimination format, some extra consideration was needed for changing track conditions and/or the effect of race fuel loads. Therefore instead of using the raw laptimes of drivers eliminated in Q1/Q2, I applied a session improvement term on them, which I defined as the 25th percentile of laptime improvements between successive sessions. (The reasoning is that the fastest half of participants aren't fully pushing in Q1/Q2, therefore the eliminated drivers' improvements would be less than the average improvement between sessions. I verified this on drivers who just made the cut and the correction is pretty accurate.)

The chart speaks for itself and shows the uncompetitive beginnings, the '70s heydays, the sprawling field of the late '80s and early '90s, and of course standout seasons like the crazy 2012 or the viciously dominated '88-89.
https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/7rj0te/qualifying_gap_distribution_across_f1_history_oc/
 

Nick Kaufman

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Watched yesterday the Drive to Survive episode about Nyck De Vries and Daniel Ricciardo. It still feels to me that De Vries got the short end of the stick even though he hadn't impressed. But still. you can't pull the plug on the rookie after only 10 races. It did seem apparent that Horner liked Ricciardo and wanted to give him another chance. That got me interested in how Ricciardo is faring against Tsunoda and apparently he isn't doing good. Basically, Ricciardo had just one good race in Mexico last year, but other than that, Tsunoda has been getting the best of him. In today's quali, Ricciardo had his time deleted, but even so, he was one tenth behind Tsunoda.

In other words, it's not looking good for Ricciardo and if he doesn't improve, these might be his last races in F1.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Piastri is having a good race. What a story that would be if he could get on the podium.
 

Nick Kaufman

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Russell needs to stop trying to overtake on the last lap... Singapore and now this.
Well, apparently, Alonso break tested Russel so he got a 20 sec penalty.

Don't know enough to say if it's merited or not, though Alonso rep for gamesmanship and tricks doesn't help him.
 

Nick Kaufman

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But there’s every indication that Sainz could have made a fight of it even if the Red Bull had been fully reliable.

Graining of fronts and rears on both the medium and hard compounds made the tyre equation really challenging on Albert Park’s still-smooth surface. Just like the last time graining was a limitation – Las Vegas last year, pictured below – the Ferrari was very quick and consistent.
He and the Ferrari were handling the graining challenge well. Red Bull had a scrappy Friday and even if it had got much closer to the car’s sweet spot by the end of qualifying, there was nothing to suggest that its control of the graining would actually be better than Ferrari’s.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Australian GP, F1

The switch by Pirelli to the softest compound range moved the race decisively to a two-stop.

On a track still smooth from its 2022 resurfacing and with not much for the tyre to bite into, relatively little energy is fed into the core structure of the tyre, leaving the tread unsupported. Hence the graining of fronts and rears on all three compounds, reducing their wear life.

This was a wear-limited race, not a thermal-limited one. What the Red Bull has been so superb at in the last three seasons is controlling the thermal degradation better than other cars. That wasn’t the issue around here.


Being in clean air was a big part of being able to keep that graining under control and Verstappen – having reported that the balance felt great on the lap to the grid – won the start and had pulled out a second on Sainz around the opening lap. But with DRS available from the second lap, Sainz was closing back upon him, with every intention of fighting for position.
https://www.the-race.com/formula-1/australian-grand-prix-2024-mark-hughes-analysis-ferrari-red-bull-carlos-sainz/
 

Nick Kaufman

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First practice session for the chinese grand prix and the camera cuts out to the stands where people have hanged a banner saying "CHARLES L"ECLAIR". :p
 

Silverdude2167

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Well that was an interesting sprint qualifying.

I really like the idea of rain for every race, but it doesn't work great for qualifying.
 

tmracht

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That was an interesting race some baffling strategy choices and some ichidents. I like crofty pushing points down the grid and Nico just like nah as we see zhou and Co battling it out while the front is boring minus the one alternative strat.