Ferrari vs Red Bull: Verstappen depends on tires

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc lived up to his role as a Barcelona qualifier favorite. But Red Bull is already planning a counterattack on Sunday. With the help of better tire wear, Max Verstappen wants his third win in a row.

The big title duel for the 2022 season between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen enters the sixth round in Barcelona. The two arch-rivals fought close duels in all five races. Verstappen made a better end to himself three times, and Leclerc won twice. And in Barcelona, ​​too, it is likely that the biggest trophy will be awarded in a direct duel.


Just like the last time in Miami, Ferrari was unbeatable in the singles time trial on Saturday (May 21). After a three-time best in the playoffs, Leclerc made life difficult for himself in the playoffs. His first attempt at the crucial Q3 Tour ended with a turn at the entrance to chicane. “I just wanted so much. I turned hard and lost the butt,” the self-deprecating world championship leader said.


Max Verstappen put his opponent under extra pressure with a solid time. But Leclerc didn’t let that bother him: “I knew I had to do the same lap again, just no mistake. When I got to chicane, I noticed I was doing really well. That’s why I was a little more cautious here on the second try. But I don’t think I lost a lot. It was a very clean cycle overall.” There was enough time to undermine Red Bull by about three and a half tenths.

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Leclerc won the duel on Saturday. But just as in Miami, Red Bull wants to turn the tables on Sunday.

Leclerc’s hard time to win

Fans would have liked to know if Verstappen would return Leclerc’s second attempt again. But a flaw in the DRS prevented the confrontation in the last minutes. “It was a really stupid flaw,” Red Bull Sports Director Helmut Marko complained. “It sure would have been very close.” Team boss Christian Horner wasn’t entirely sure: “I don’t think it would be enough for us. But we would have been closer anyway.”


Verstappen himself assumes he would have at least improved: “It’s hard to say how it could have happened. Of course I wanted to know what would have been possible.” In the end, the world champion can live with the second place. In training it didn’t look such a good qualifying result at first. On Friday, Verstappen was still looking for the right balance. “Ferrari also brought in some upgrades. We didn’t have anything with us. It didn’t make things any easier,” the Dutchman sighed.


After qualifying, all participants were already thinking about racing on Sunday. In Miami, Leclerc also started from first place. But in the end, Verstappen rose to the top notch on the podium. Conditions in Barcelona do not quite compare to those in Florida. Tire wear is much higher. Accordingly, strategy also plays an important role.


Leclerc was able to secure a small tire Joker in qualifying. The Ferrari driver successfully passed the second lap with a used set. For racing he now has a new soft-set in his collection. “We have discussed this tactic before. In the end, I left the decision to the team to take the risk and save the second round,” the pilot praised his strategy.


Max Verstappen - Spanish Grand Prix 2022

red bull

Red Bull is hopeful that in the long run a good pace will lead to the decision in the race.

Red Bull hopes corrosion advantage

Leclerc can attach the new soft tire at first. This would give him an advantage in the 579m sprint to the first corner. Although overtaking is not easy in Barcelona, ​​Verstappen has already declared that he will not risk everything in the first few metres: “Last year I was in the lead after the start, but I did not win yet. If there is a chance, I will attack. If I don’t That happens, I’ll wait for my chance.”


Red Bull prefers to play for time. Over the course of 66 laps, you count on tire wear advantage. In the long run on Friday, Ferrari couldn’t keep up with Verstappen. Since then, Scuderia engineers have worked on the setup again, as Leclerc revealed: “We did another long run in the third practice session. The car felt much better than yesterday. Unfortunately, we don’t have a benchmark because we were the only ones so I can’t say if Max and Chico’s challenge was enough.”


Red Bull also kept a close eye on the contest’s long tracks on Saturday. “They’ve definitely improved,” Marko said. “You have to see how close they are to us.” According to Grazer, there is another aspect that speaks of Red Bull: “We are the world champions. The situation is new for Ferrari. The pressure is greater there. Max has proven in the last two races that he does not make mistakes and that he is the one who immediately exploits the slightest weakness of the opponent. I hope Checo remains able to help him race.”

Charles Leclerc - Spanish Grand Prix 2022

Ferrari

Carlos Sainz wishes to interfere in the duel between Leclerc and Verstappen.

Sainz plans to attack first

The second driver did not play a major role in qualifying. Sergio Perez will need to get past George Russell on Sunday before he can get into the fight on the podium. Carlos Sainz was unable to keep up with his teammate Leclerc in his home match. “I’ve been struggling to find a good balance all weekend. I’m not comfortable with the car in general. Charles can play with it more. But we know the car is fast. I’d rather be third in a tough game. You drive than sixth in a tolerance car. “.


After Friday’s troubles, Sainz was reasonably satisfied despite dropping four-tenths: “From third place I still have a chance to interfere with the fight up front. I hope I can get away from the line well and then it’s all about that I have to use the propeller and the braking.” As late as possible in Turn 1. It would be so much fun if we all got there at the same time.”


The domestic champion does not believe that the new generation of cars will lead to more excesses. “Practically speaking, it wasn’t easy to follow another car closely. It was also probably due to the high temperatures the tires were experiencing. The tires warmed up instantly every lap behind another car. So it’s possible that this car also overtakes that wasn’t That’s easy in Barcelona this year. If you want to win here, everything has to be fine – the start, tire wear and strategy. A lot can happen in laps 66. I’m ready to fight. Anything is possible.”


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