Formula 1’s return for the second half of the 2022 season came amid announcements, but also a glimpse into the teams’ strategies for the final nine stages. Many people have taken advantage of the express Spa-Francorchamps to enhance the exchange of power unit elements (some transmissions too). With almost everyone suspended, the solution is to comply with the engine change limits penalties in a place with less problematic overtaking points, such as on the Belgian track. But what makes it even better is that the title contenders are on that sanctioned list: Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will start from the bottom of the grid on Sunday – and both will still be joined by Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas and Mick Schumacher. So, there’s a nice opportunity for linkers and anyone else in a position to benefit from the mention, albeit with reservations.
It is worth noting here that the champion has one of the best Fridays in Belgium. Red Bull has worked hard on setting up the RB18 to find a suitable compromise between top speed and downforce. It was interesting to note that the Taureans changed the setting between the two sessions. Initially, the best thing about the Taurus prevailed: straight-line performance. But that’s not enough at the spa, so in the afternoon the choice was for more downforce – hence the faster divisions in Sector Two. However, the red tor follows him faster in a straight line.
The Dutchman still knows better how to better understand the behavior of tires at lower temperatures. This is important because Red Bull has suffered in cold weather before, but now it appears Max has been able to find the right performance window, possibly due to downforce. Also, in one lap, the performance was intimidating. Verstappen Imposing itself with almost 0s9 at the top Leclerc – although it is necessary to look at it in perspective: after all, it’s still only Friday at the spa.
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“We’ve seen how we can make the best possible modification of the car and I can tell, as soon as I’m gone, he’s in good shape,” said the championship captain. “We just needed to find a little balance, but overall I liked everything from first practice, that’s a positive,” added Max, who only needed one lap in qualifying speed (before the rain) to set the best time. .
The balance that the first rider mentioned is also about race preparation – the wet track at the end of session two was limited by the race simulation, but the Dutchman showed a steady pace. Within the rules and with the world of penalties in mind, it is very likely that Verstappen will stand out and move away from the last ranks. However, you will have a compressed block to overcome. So the compromise between grip, downforce and straight-line velocity seems to be essential.
Ferrari also thinks this way in the spa. Leclerc will have to deal with traffic for the first few laps, so the Italians focused on improving the F1-75’s aerodynamic efficiency, as well as providing straight-line speed. Powered by a new engine that has undergone an overhaul of the hybrid elements, the idea is to try once again to get Taurus into their comfort zone.
In this sense, Leclerc will have sufficient resources. Although rain got in the way of qualifying and race rehearsals, the Italian team tried everything. Monaco showed a better performance, while Carlos Sainz was better. “Low fuel pace looks bad, but high fuel speed is good. We’ll keep working and try to make progress through the night. We didn’t focus on qualifying speed because it would be useless, so we’re focusing on race speed to climb the field,” Leclerc analyzed.
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But if Verstappen and Leclerc are indeed compromised in the race at Spa, the penalties end up opening up space for the teammates, who will have the task of driving Red Bull and Ferrari. It is a very tempting opportunity. And in this scenario, Sainz was better than Sergio Perez. The Spaniard drove FP1 and worked hard at the race pace in the afternoon. “I’m sure we know where to find the rhythm for tomorrow, and in the long runs, we’re doing well, so I think we’re in good shape for the rest of the weekend,” Carlos said.
The Mexican had a hydraulic problem on the rear wing during the second workout, which caused him to waste track time. “We didn’t have the speed today, part of that was due to track conditions, but also a problem with the rear wing, which required us to stop for a little while, but it was quickly resolved. Our track time wasn’t perfect,” he said.
Saturday promises a completely different climate for network definition. The rain that was present in both sessions will likely not show up, which will allow the temperature to rise. Herein lies the hope of Mercedes. Yes, the Germans have no punishment – at least not yet – to implement, and they are certainly looking forward to the next opportunity. However, Silver Friday wasn’t the easiest.
The pair also tested the parts, fitting, and frames, staying off the table top. However, it is always important to remember: the team has faced complex freestyle practices, but it always turns out to be strong weekends as the days go by. “We weren’t able to learn a lot from the long laps on the track, because of the conditions. We put the hard tires on in the second session, which was particularly tough. But the average vehicles did reasonably well in FP1. There’s clearly an opportunity with the number of cars that will be penalized. on it, but we still need to know the speed if we want to take advantage of that,” admitted Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes circuit engineer.
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