Deciphering Ferrari’s Ability to Beat Red Bull through Race Simulation

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The Ferrari race sim offering clues to its Red Bull-beating potential

The recent Bahrain test may have seen Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc dominate the timing sheets, but the significance of their performance hasn’t sparked much discussion.

Sainz’s impressive time of 1m29.921s, set on the second day, outpaced Red Bull’s benchmark by around seven tenths, established by Sergio Perez. Yet, despite this feat, there’s a consensus in the paddock that Red Bull remains the team to beat going into the upcoming F1 season-opener.

However, amidst the focus on raw speed, another aspect of Sainz’s performance during the Bahrain test has provided ample food for thought regarding the competitive balance between Ferrari and Red Bull.

Deciphering Ferrari's Ability to Beat Red Bull through Race Simulation
Deciphering Ferrari’s Ability to Beat Red Bull through Race Simulation (Credits: Motorsport)

Sainz’s race simulation run on the second evening, conducted under similar conditions to Perez’s, offered intriguing insights into Ferrari’s potential with the new SF-24.

In terms of pure lap times, Ferrari seemed to have the edge. Over three race stints, Sainz consistently outpaced the Red Bull, particularly showcasing his advantage on the C3 compound, which averaged just over 0.4 seconds.

This disparity widened to over a second during their final stints on the harder C1 compound. However, the extent of this advantage suggests that Perez may have been running with a heavier fuel load, introducing variability into the comparison.

Nevertheless, one clear takeaway from Sainz’s race simulation is the apparent resolution of the high tire degradation issues that plagued Ferrari in 2023. Sainz’s consistent performance throughout the stint, especially on the C1 compound, contrasts starkly with the struggles faced by Ferrari in last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

For team principal Fred Vasseur, this consistency and the positive feedback from both drivers regarding the car’s improvements are more significant than mere numerical comparisons with Red Bull.

The focus is now on understanding the true performance relative to fuel loads, as teams employ various strategies to mask their true potential during testing.

While Red Bull’s performance in testing remains somewhat enigmatic, Ferrari remains cautiously optimistic, prioritizing their own development agenda over speculation about their rivals’ strategies. As Vasseur aptly puts it, “If they run with 20 kilos, we are in good shape, but if they run with 80kg, we are nowhere. Nobody knows except them.”

With testing complete, the teams are now preparing for the season-opener, armed with data and insights garnered from Bahrain. The true measure of each team’s performance will soon be revealed on the track.


By Park-Shin Jung

I am Park-Shin Jung. I am a professional content writer for cars.

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