Belgium GP: Ferrari’s Strategic Podium Triumph


Seeing a competitive Ferrari in such situations shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore. And instead. The thing that worries the most at the moment is seeing the wonder in the eyes and voices of the Prancing Horse exponents both when things go well, like today, and when they fall instead like at Silverstone and Hungary. This column now deals with this topic constantly after each race and will be resumed today as well. But first, let’s proceed with a recap on the strategies seen during the 2023 Belgian GP.

Strategy recap

This morning we were pretty sure that we would go to two-stop tactics (read more here). The indecision concerned which were the most indecent tires to complete the GP. The writer, referring precisely to the strategies seen last year and to the fact that the riders would have had to deal with a rather cold and green track, recommended the use of M-M-H, while Pirelli suggested adopting S-M-S. The point today therefore goes to our builder.

As we can observe from the recap offered to us by the P Lunga house, 7 drivers, including the first three classified (in the order Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc) have opted for the adoption of two Soft and one Medium trains. Hamilton, on this strategy, chose at the last available lap to mount a second set of Mediums to get the fastest lap in 1’47”305.

5 drivers opted to mount two sets of Medium and one of Soft (Alonso the best classified in 5th position); Norris was the only one to mount all three compounds (among other things he is the driver who has covered the most laps with the red C4 arriving in P7: 27 laps); Stroll and Gasly made only one pit stop using Mediums and Softs, in reverse order of each other; while Williams went over three stops with both drivers adopting an S-M-M-S strategy.

Ferrari amazed by the third place, as if he had lost his bearings
Once the Belgian GP was over, it was time for the protagonists to devote themselves to interviews. The last ones, then we would all go on summer break. Ferrari conquered a beautiful podium, and obviously everyone from Leclerc to Vasseur, except Sainz who had to retire due to being hit by Piastri in Turn-1 immediately after the traffic lights went out, declared themselves very satisfied with the pace shown Today. What is worrying is not so much this (even if…), but the fact of having stated (we are referring to Leclerc) that the team does not understand why the SF-23 behaved so differently between Belgium and Hungary .

Taking advantage of this column, we have already told you several times about our theory. Ferrari performs much better on rear-limited tracks like Austria and Hungary, while it suffers on front-limited tracks like Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps (here the differences). However, this element alone is not enough to understand how the car from Maranello will behave. Looking at these tracks, the Reds scored podiums in both Spielberg and Belgium, struggling in Budapest and the UK. So what is the element that could balance everything? The temperatures.

At the Hungaroring the riders had to race with 50°C asphalt and even if the nature of the track could offer an advantage to Leclerc and Sainz, the duo struggled a lot to keep the tires in the right window of use. On the contrary, in Belgium, despite the fast corners leading to more overheating of the tyres, enjoying a road surface temperature never exceeding 34°C meant that Charles was always able to extract the full potential from his single-seater. At the moment this is what seems to us to be the theory that best explains Ferrari’s many ups and downs.

This is why we cannot be serene with the result obtained today. Unfortunately for the team from Maranello, Formula1 organizes races in the summer and not in the autumn/winter. It will be unlikely that a scenario will be created again in which the rain falls just enough to keep the road surface from heating up and continue on slick tires without having to enter the pits to mount the Intermediate tyres. For our part, we await further feedback to put even more irons in the fire and understand what really is the weak point of this Ferrari.

In the words of the technicians and pilots, one perceives a lack of a precise route, of a line to follow in an attempt to solve problems. It seems to see them making attempts, a bit at random, as if they had lost their bearings. But maybe it’s just a feeling.

Regarding the stops and pit stops, everything went as it should today. The problems that emerged during yesterday’s Sprint Race were brilliantly remedied. Only the regret remains of not having been able to see if Sainz would have confirmed Leclerc’s good pace.

Pirelli’s comment

We conclude our last pre-summer break review with the words released by Mario Isola at the end of the GP to the columns of the Italian-Chinese house: “Finally we had a day with fair weather conditions. The rain only showed in flashes and not arrived at the final round of the weekend practically in the dark increased the uncertainties and, together with the abundance of new dry-weather tires available, offered the teams an even wider range of possible strategies”.

“The degradation of the Softs and Mediums was in line with the simulations. Track temperatures were also relatively low,” said Pirelli motorsport director. “At the same time, these same temperatures made the Hard uncompetitive, used only by a driver for a handful of kilometres. From a performance point of view, the other two compounds were up to the situation and the different length of the stints routes was a function of the drivers’ choices to push from the start to make the most of the available grip or manage them to lengthen the mileage as much as possible. A choice made by those who chose to make only one pit stop”.

“Formula 1 is now preparing to take a small break. We will stay two more days in Spa for the tests on Tuesday and Wednesday together with Aston Martin and McLaren as collaborators: the work program will depend a lot on what the weather conditions will be”. commented Isola in conclusion.

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