#F1 Forensics: Red Bull revival and the Ferrari weaknesses

Brought to you by TheJudge13 Technical Analyst Lorenzo De Luca

Red Bull revival and the Ferrari weaknesses

The Canadian GP finally gave us a new winner, many suprises and a good show. For the first time this season  Mercedes have not dominated the race and proved that even the W05 is not perfect. Behind them was comparable levels of performance between Red Bull, Force India and Williams with Ferrari reduced to an anonymous appearance anonymous. The Canadian track, is an old style track, composed by very fast straights, broken just by chicanes and an hairpin. A track then, whose characteristics have highlighted the major qualities of the Mercedes power unit. No surprise then, seeing Mercedes flying away, dictating a pace unsustainable for all other drivers, followed by Williams and Force India. Just the FW36 and the VJM07 were exalted by the layout of the track, low downforce and very high top speed indeed, have always been the strengths of these cars.

Mercedes still ahead

The Canadian Gp was long awaited, as both Ferrari and Renault had widely anticipated the introduction of important software updates and engine maps to their respective power units in an attempt to give a swerve to a poor starting season. While it is true that Red Bull and Renault have made very significant improvements (just think at where they were in February), that put the RB10 as the “best of the rest”.

It is undeniable that Mercedes still have an important gap, made even clearer by the fact that Rosberg ran without ERS power, which acording to Magneti Marelli simulation would have ensured a two seconds advantage on the lap times, but he was still capable of clocking the same lap times of those who were behind him. So, if on the one hand, Mercedes proves it’s not bulletproof, on the other it’s clear that we’re looking at a car that is almost perfect in each sector : engine, chassis, aerodynamic efficiency.

Sector times and speed chart:


Just the mechanical grip and the tremendous level of traction (as could be seen by the times set in the second sector ) bond the RB10 and the W05, which not being able to get amongst the highest speeds on the straight, used their traction and grip to hold their positions and build their lap times .

At Milton Keynes the team has worked very hard to retrieve the lost competitiveness, not only on the power unit side with Renault but also introducing at each race new aerodynamic parts which have been able to restore the necessary balance to the car. In Canada, Newey & Co. sacrificed a portion of the aerodynamic load in order to give the car a higher top speed on the straights. This is evidenced by the enormous amount of work done on Friday, when both drivers spent long time in the box looking for the optimal setup. At Montreal, on the RB10 we saw a new nosecone, now without the bulge in its bottom part with the attempt to reduce the downforce and increase the top speed

Red Bull RB10 new nosecone


As well as the new nosecone, the RB10 carried a new low drag rear wing with only 3 slots and a long louvre on the leading edge

Red Bull RB10 new rear wing


Force India and Williams looking for confirmation

Williams and Force India lived up to their expectations. Unlike in Bahrain, both the FW36 and the VJM07, proved to be in a better shape. Indeed, only the mistake at the pit-stop and the final shunt with Perez, prevented Massa from taking his first victory with his new team, the FW36 showed once again to be one of the fastest car on the straights (if not the fastest one) thanks to their level of low drag, which here combined with their ability to burn less fuel than anyone put Massa and Bottas just behind the Mercedes cars.

Also very good was the perfomance shown by Perez and Hulkenberg, the VJM07 like the Williams, is a car with low drag which helped them climb up the Montreal grid, Perez also proved how good the VJM07 is in managing its tires doing 35 laps with the softest compound brought by Pirelli, a stint beyond any wildest expectations, as all other teams suffered graining on rear tires after just a few laps.

But now that Formula 1 go back to more normal track, Force India and Williams will need to find more downforce if they seriously want to leave their mark on this season. At Montreal there weren’t significant upgrades for either cars, a sign that performance has to be found on other types of tracks. Although Force India tested two new rear wings Friday

New Force India rear wings


The F14-T weaknesses

Ferrari arrived in Montreal full of optimism, thanks to the long awaited new package announced one month ago by Montezemolo in Bahrain. The much acclaimed comeback did not occur, with Ferrari seemingly taking a step back although in reality the opponents have progressed faster than Ferrari.

Aerodynamic, chassis, power unit : these are the weakest point of he F14-T. A project that was developed badly and will continue to struggle to carve out a leading role in this season. The updates brought in Canada , proved to be unsuitable for the 059/3 cooling needs. This is a monumental error which occurred during the design of the 059/3, which clearly shows how Ferrari’s engine specialists and chassis engineers have not worked well together during the winter.

Ferrari new bodywork/sidepods design


This is affecting not only the engine performances but the whole car. Indeed the new bodywork and floor seemed to give the F14-T an acceptable performance level, but by putting at risk the power unit’s reliability, once temperatures rose up . The sector times chart above, clearly show the very poor traction (3rd sector times), this lack of traction is reflected in lap times, bad tire management and the inability to overtake (striking difference in traction between the Williams and Ferrari during the race out of the hairpin ). It’s pointless suggesting that the track was not ideal for the Ferrari. Red Bull proved otherwise by winning the race with Ricciardo and Vettel finishing in third place,  this with an RB10 that is well known to be lacking top speed.

What’s next

The next race will be held in Zeltweg, the former A1-Ring (now called Red Bull Ring), a totally different track in comparison to Montreal. At 99% – Mercedes will claim another dominant win, but pay attention to Red Bull which is rumored to be introducing a B-spec of the RB10.

Ferrari will be looking to return with a better response after the very poor performance in Canada, which saw the prancing horse not only well behind Mercedes and Red Bull, but also behind Williams and Force India.

35 responses to “#F1 Forensics: Red Bull revival and the Ferrari weaknesses

  1. “this lack of traction is reflected in lap times,”

    Then explain why Alonso and Raikkonen set the second and third fastest lap times on Sunday.

    • Because it was utterly useless? They still finished where a Ferrari doesn’t belong – way down the order. Lap times don’t count.

      • I believe they only count – if you’re a certain German who has set pole and is going to win the race by a country mile ….


        otherwise – indeed not.

  2. I will never understand why Ferrari cannot get their act together. They have everything under one roof! What Lauda said in Rush must be true. “I can’t believe you have all these facilities and you build a piece of shit like this!”

    • The Ferrari’s were so bad that had he not had his accident in 1976 he would have won 3 WC’s on the trot in them

      • Cav, I know you are more intelligent than that comment. It’s well-known from Ferrari historians, Lauda biog’s etc that when he joined Ferrari at the end of 1973 is when he made that statement.

        Let’s be honest from the beauty of the 312B in 1970, they had slid backwards for some time. Lauda’s arrival brought about a new era and with LdM they turned the team into runners up in 1974 and winners of all titles except 1976 drivers title for the next three years.

        Other than the tech revolution of the 1978 Lotus when Ferrari were runners up again, that success lasted until Ferrari’s double in 1979.

    • I believe the problem is cultural. Like my country, it has a lot of resources and it can’t get out of the third world because of the idiosyncracy of the vast majority of its people.
      I was answering Danilo that actually Ferrari is where it belongs, the Schumacher era was an exception, and pre-1980s Formula 1 was a different thing. Before 1980s current work methods weren’t the norm, and even by then they probably had the biggest budget most of the time and weren’t winning everything. In the Schumacher era italian personnel was outnumbered by foreigners at least to a point where the culture inside the team wasn’t really italian.

      • What would be McLaren’s excuse? 3 driver’s WC’s in the last 20 years and their budgets are close or equal to Ferrari’s.

        • Because they always mess up from a winning position…. e.g. 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007-8, 2010 and 2012 are the latest chances to win a title.

          • Notice that they also find it hard to compete every year.. the exception being 2008 when others’ focus turned to 2009. If the ‘downturn’ includes 2013 and 2014… they should be stronger in 2015 with Honda. But I’m not hopeful…

          • IIRC McLaren had alternating design teams year on year. That seemed to be part of the problem – no real continuity.

      • I think Juan is correct

        Ferrari is exactly where it belongs

        And as long as they produce worthless pieces of shit – that’s where they will stay.

  3. ” Aerodynamic, chassis, power unit : these are the weakest point of he F14-T. ”

    In other words – the weakest points are – EVERYTHING ……

    Why don’t Ferrari just paint the car brown – because it’s a great big TURD !


  4. Thanks for the great pictures of the new aero designs! I’m curious if Force India will use these rear wings unchanged in Monza later in the season, they certainly seemed to be part of a good package.

    Now about Red Bull: I’m convinced their position in the championship is already as good as it is going to get, no matter what developments they or their engine supplier may yet bring to future race weekends. With their current 139 points they’re already 119 back from Mercedes, but they also have a comfortable margin of 52 points to third-placed and under-performing Ferrari.

    The only things Red Bull can hope for in the second half of the season are a) better qualifying results to make their life easier on Sunday and b) to lurk in third and fourth place, ready to take advantage, should Mercedes ever have issues again like they did this past weekend in Canada.

    • I hope Williams and Force India can be strong at Spa, Monza.. but I think others will have developed by then. Mercedes won’t have another double failure surely… but if they do, I hope one of these teams can pick up the pieces!

  5. Thanks Lorenzo, good post. Williams certainly seems to be fighting (finally!) above their financial weight; it would be nice to see some of the smaller teams get a bit more of the cash. What’s happened to Sauber? I hope they are here next year.

    • Financial situation doesn’t hlp for sure, but the Swiss team is also facing the fact they are running with an underperforming and overweight engine . Looking at the history of Sauber, which always did good chassis, we can really say that the 059/3 is affecting their performance

      • Raising the Ferrari teams up a bit for ‘engine compensation’, does this mean Marussia could be even faster? That would leave Caterham even further behind.

        Will the 2015 Ferrari engine be closer to the others with a bigger turbo?

        Steve – If Force India or Williams can finish 4th, then they’ll get some rewards at least – more than Sauber did in 2012. McLaren should be covered by the new deal with Honda, who will invest to try and get the team back near the front.

  6. Time for Ferrari to call of ’14 and start afresh for next year? This year’s car seems utterly worthless in comparison to even smaller teams like Force India.

    • ” ….. and start afresh for next year ? ”

      deja vu all over again,

      and again,

      and again ……. ?

      • Yep. Starting to sound repetitive there in Maranello.

        I’d be so interested in a full investigative article about Ferrari post 2006 when Schu, Brawn etc left.

        It’s all born, IMHO, in the falsity of 2007 and 08, where good designs and solid process under the Schu era and the old regs carried over for a year or two.

        Then in 2009 with all new regs they soon realised they didn’t have a creative bone in their post Svhumacher body. But at least they developed very well in that year to become race winners towards the end and save face.

        Then the constant false dawns of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. In all years complaining the formula was aero driven etc. Essentially a half decade down the drain, a half decade if relatively stable regs. But they now had the F1 they wanted, one where the motor is king again.

        2014, an engine driven formula with very dimished aero and harder tyres. A Ferrari and good driver dream right? Enter Raikkonen to drive Alonso hard. Right?

        Well, no better. In fact, it is even worse. Ouch! A lot of humble pie served at Marranello.

        Side note; It is amusing to me they fight for customer cars. But really, who’d want their customer car?

        Disclaimer: I was a massive Ferrari / Schumacher fan. I found the company became misguided and distasteful as the years went on in 08, 09, 10.

        By 2011, I was no longer a Ferrari fan, hoping Schumi would do well at Mercedes. By 2013, I openly disliked Ferrari’s BS.

        Now they just amuse me and I separate mentally the Ferrari I loved in the 1990’s and 2000’s to now. Which is a useless, bank funded/owned, red car driven by an egomaniac and a robot, managed by some Italians that thought they were somehow responsible for the old glory days that are now a decade gone by.

        Double Disclaimer: I am a fan of the robot. I generally like Italians, there creative history and their current way of life.

        Triple Disclaimer: but I don’t like them enough not to criticise them.

  7. Hi Lorenzo great article, two quick questions. The first is I’ve seen some articles stating that like Mercedes, Ferrari had come up with the split turbo arrangement but had just utterly failed to implement it. IS that your understanding?

    Second, looking at FP2 race sims, Ferrari looked to have fairly decent performance. Would they have been more competitive if they had been able to run their new parts on Sunday or were they just running light to make themselves look better?

    • Hi matt ! About the Turbo, it is false, the MGU-K on the 059/3 is not placed between the compressor and turbine (as it happen on the Mercedes) but in front of the compressor.

      About FP2, The new side pods seems to give a resonable benefit to the aero load of the F14-T “blowing” the hot air just in the middle of the diffuser (Mercedes and Red Bull have this solution since the very first race in Australia ), but we have to take into account the raising temperature we had on Saturday and on Sunday which made ​​the track very slippery, this combined with the lack of traction and downforce explain the poor performance on Sunday. Also it has to be said that , usually, Red Bull and Mercedes always hide some of their true performance until Saturday.

      • Good morning LDL83…

        I’ve got a similar question to what Matt asked….

        At the Monaco race, the Sky pundits interviewed a few kids from a charity, I think it was called Star. Well one of them said they spoke to Remi Taffin and he said that they too had tried to split the turbine and compressor, but felt it wouldn’t work, hence ditching the concept. As we an see by Mercedes’s current dominance, the concept does work.

        What do you think were some of the difficulties they faced, that made them abandon the concept?

        • Good Morning Fortis,

          The MGU-K between the compressor and turbine is not the secret of the Mercedes dominance. It could help the MGU-K cooling , but for sure it’s not the secret that made the W05 so dominant.

          Mercedes did an awesome job in the placement of the various elements, such as the intercooler being placed directly into the chassis exploiting the free space due to the smaller fuel tank, while Ferrari placed it right into the “Vee” of the internal combustion engine, hence the development limits we see today starts from this choice. Also the exhaust manifolds are smaller anc compacts, resulting into less weight and hot gases with more energy when they reach the MGU-H .

          About Ferrari not using the Mercedes MGU-H placement, I guess it’s due to the smaller turbine, which cause some vibrations and counter-waves pressure.

          • You forgot to mention that the split turbo design also means less pipe work for the charge air to travel through ad the compressor is close to the air intake, this helps reduce turbo lag meaning from the get go they are using less electrical energy to spin up the turbo allowing more electrical energy to be deployed through the K.

          • If the Mercedes team were to go back to using larger disc and the 6 piston calipers, how much of an effect would it have on it’s ERS system?

  8. I am seriously NOT a Ferrari F1 fan. I too well remember the years of laughable Chinese fire drill pit stops, the many years of not only a lack of imagination but also a failure to even acknowledge the efficacy of emerging technologies. even the above pales when considering the relative death trap mentality of their F1 cars. I don’t hate them. I just do not buy into the “Ferrari IS F1” banter.

    having said that, I hope we all understand the above took place many years ago and is merely a veiled excuse for my personal lack of relative respect for the brand…

    here is my point: ANYBODY who has ever BUILT & LED a successful team -whether soccer, cycling, auto racing, a singular restaurant, baseball, whatever) – took ALL the right steps, did the due diligence, etc. and it all came together for a glorious year or so. then, following the winning strategy with mostly the same personnel and finances and effort sees a few years of failure and then termination with many scratching their heads and crying in their beer…

    it is pretty damned easy to be good for awhile.
    it is very hard and lucky to be great for awhile.
    nobody has ever had a clue how to be great for a long while…

    Ferrari, McLaren, Sauber and a few others need a big re-boot for sure.
    how that will take place and the results thereof will be fascinating to follow.

  9. @Fortis96

    On ERS system maybe nothing, it will affect the brake balance of the car, as the braking force on the rear axle will be too much bigger (the bigger brake calipers combined with MGU-K slowing down the crankshaft)

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