F1 2022 Technical Imola Red Bull takes the bull by the horns

F1 2022 Technical Imola Red Bull takes the bull by the horns

In Emilia-Romagna, Red Bull scored 58 points, against 20 for Ferrari, which had nevertheless dominated in Australia. How to understand this reversal?


Dominated by Ferrari and plagued by reliability problems in the first races, Red Bull reacted on the ground of its opponent and regained control.

Admittedly, the Prancing Horse shot itself in the foot by accumulating errors (a tactical error by Charles Leclerc in qualifying on Friday, bad settings during the sprint which caused graining, slow start on the wet side of the grid then a fault handling in the race), but the RB18 was noticeably faster at Imola. For what reasons ?

Unlike the Scuderia, which preferred not to bring any new features during a weekend contested in the sprint format (next page), the British team has introduced some technical novelties.

At the front, a fin has been added around the keel (compare the yellow arrows in the image above), itself thinner (blue arrows), in order to provide additional downforce. The design is inspired by the one seen on the Ferrari F1-75 as well as the Aston Martin AMR22 (and which Alpine also took over this weekend). At the rear, the brake scoop has been revised to improve cooling.

“The aerodynamic package works as expectedsaid Helmut Marko. But we still have the ‘weight’ factor to sort out, because the Ferrari is even lighter than our car. We are still above the minimum weight of the FIA. We will reach this figure in several stages. Which is normal: at Weight Watchers, you don’t lose your excess weight all of a sudden.”

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Also, Milton Keynes reduced its weight handicap compared to Maranello by fitting lighter parts. Of the excess 10kg (which in theory is around three tenths of a second), she would have recovered four at Imola, with the rest to be won by Barcelona.

Fine, but did these upgrades really make the Red Bull faster than the Ferrari?

“Well [Charles Leclerc] escaped yesterday, nuanced Max Verstappen on arrival. We introduced changes, but I don’t know what they brought us… Anyway, everything was under control, better than in Australia, and sometimes that’s more important than new parts. And then things are always more uncertain on a wet track…”

The difference lies more in the operation of the tires. In this regard, Red Bull has learned the lesson of Melbourne. Better tuned, the RB18 did not cause graining on the front tires on Saturday, unlike the Ferrari.

“As we saw in Melbourne, F1 tires have an operating window [la notion est expliquée ici] in which we managed to place them this weekend by choosing the right settings”, explained Christian Horner.

“Charles was suffering a bit more than us on his front tyres, both in the sprint race and during the Grand Prix, where he started to suffer in the second part of the race.

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Contrary to previous Grands Prix, the F1-75 made less use of its tires, the Italian engineers not being able to find the right settings in the short time allowed for running (a single session before the parc fermé on Friday), whereas their opponents from Red Bull succeeded:

“We had very little time to develop the car, analyzed Mattia Binotto on Sunday evening. With only one session on Friday, on a wet track, we collected very little data, even on the long stints.

“It’s true that we rode on Saturday in free 2, but I have the feeling that we ran out of data before competing in the sprint race. In this respect, Red Bull has worked better than us. You have to understand why.”

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