Why we'll have to wait until Barcelona before imagining a fight for the drivers' title

Defeated in Miami and Monaco respectively by McLaren and Ferrari, not far from also losing at Imola, Max Verstappen and Red Bull are expecting another possibly difficult weekend in Canada. To find out if the RB20 still has a large margin over the opponents, we will in any case have to wait for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Published on 07/06/2024 à 22:42

Jeremy Satis

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Why we'll have to wait until Barcelona before imagining a fight for the drivers' title

Three men for one title? ©DPPI

The victories acquired on a regular basis Lando Norris in Miami and Charles Leclerc in Monaco have started to bring some excitement back to the paddock of the F1, who was no longer used to seeing Max Verstappen et Red Bull getting beaten twice in three weekends. The Monegasque, parading in TV pen in front of the televisions on Thursday, even had to answer numerous questions about his chances of the title, given his current form and his only 31 points behind the Dutchman.

Are we really there? Should we really expect a fight for the title, when we still imagined after Jeddah a new walk in the park all season for the Milton Keynes structure and the Dutch dragster, given the margin displayed? It is still difficult to say for the moment, and for good reason... Lando Norris' victory in Florida did not suffer from any dispute if we base ourselves on the end of the race and his supersonic pace, but he It should be remembered that the Briton benefited from an exit from the appropriate safety car to take control.

1 victory in the last 3 Grands Prix for Max Verstappen

At Red Bull, we then argued that the small gap (0”7!) observed at the end of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris was mainly due to the bumpy surface of Imola and its aggressive kerbs. Same observation regarding the lack of performance in Monaco, on a very particular urban circuit, where Verstappen spent his weekend avoiding the curbs when Charles Leclerc swallowed them like a glutton without blinking, thanks to the robustness of his Ferrari.

In short, there are currently rational (and not trivial!) explanations concerning Red Bull's temporary downturns. In Canada, this will probably still be the case a little bit, with a few high curbs to climb (notably the chicane with the view overlooking the Wall of Champions) and a semi-urban route to tame. “I hope it won't be as bad as in Monaco, compared to the problems we had there”, explained Sergio Pérez, who has just extended his contract with Red Bull.

“We've done some work, some analysis, and I think it's good to have straight away a challenge similar to Monaco in many ways. So it will be an interesting race, but I expect us to be a little stronger. I don't think it will be our best track, but I really hope we can fight there." It is obviously not to be excluded that Red Bull and Max Verstappen impose their law in Canada, especially on a resurfaced tarmac and therefore less bumpy. In the event of a poor performance, it would probably still be a little early to consider that the margin displayed since 2022 by the team led by Christian Horner has completely disappeared.

In Barcelona, ​​it will in fact be a return to a so-called traditional circuit, including numerous medium and high speed turns. It is often said that the fastest on the Catalan circuit are those who benefit from the car the most complete, which is nevertheless a little less true since the chicane in the last sector was removed in favor of a fast curve. See Ferrari or McLaren to at least be on par with Red Bull in Catalonia would be far more meaningful than seeing the Austrian team lose a third time in four races on Sunday in Montreal. This would somehow formalize the return to business of the reds and oranges, and it would indicate that it would undoubtedly be the same on the other circuits.

One thing is certain however, there is no need to wait for Barcelona to understand that the competition has finally made up a large part of its gap on Red Bull. In any case Ferrari and McLaren, who finally seem to have understood how to produce a fast car on Saturday and Sunday, by running low enough to have downforce without killing the tires however. Woking materialized it thanks to its new package brought to Miami, and Maranello with its improvements inaugurated at Imola. At Ferrari, we are starting to talk about the title, or at least putting pressure on Vestappen. At McLaren, we confirm that we are a candidate for podiums on all tracks. The lexical field becomes clearer.

“I’m not thinking about the championship yet, but the goal is to win races every weekend”, declared Leclerc, ambitious. “We are improving more than anyone over the last seven or eight months, and we have to continue to focus on the process more than the result. The good result will only be the fruit of hard work and a job well done. We really focus on the process, on our weaknesses and how we can optimize every aspect of the car. By doing this we will get to the point where we can claim a victory every weekend. We want to win the world championship, that’s the goal, and for that we still have to make progress.” 

It's tempting to give in to the excitement of the latest results. Andrea Stella also put pressure on Ferrari by saying that Leclerc and Ferrari were contenders for the two championship titles at the end of the year. Let's still try to wait a few more weeks to be able to look forward to a possible fight for the world crown. Because there is another way of looking at things, just as realistically: Max Verstappen today has 31 points more than Charles Leclerc and even 56 more than Lando Norris, all while having won 24 of the last 30 Grands Prix disputed. Let's not have a short memory...

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Jeremy Satis

Great F1 reporter & passionate about promotional formulas

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Yves-Henri RANDIER

08/06/2024 at 01:20 a.m.

Traditionally, Montmelo has always been an excellent benchmark allowing a very precise view of the hierarchy in terms of performance. Looking forward to June 23 while waiting, we hope, for a wet race in Montreal!

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