Ferrari explains how they were able to fix the tire problems – and what the trade-off was
An infuriating French Grand Prix performance caused by tire wear issues forced Ferrari to a top-down scan of its car – with team manager Mattia Binotto convinced that a later decision to modify the His car’s balance had helped resolve the issue, although it had slightly compromised the team’s qualifying performance.
After securing a pair of surprise pole positions in previous races in Monaco and Baku, Ferrari’s French Grand Prix came out on top, as Carlos Sainz finished 11th and Charles Leclerc 16th, both drivers struggling with wear and tear. excessive tires – leading Ferrari to review their car’s performance.
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“What happened in France, we had very high tire wear on the front left, graining and then a lot of wear,” Binotto explained. “We tried to come back to Maranello to try to approach, in terms of homework, the exercise of ‘do we have a problem with our car, in terms of concept’, which has the consequence of bringing it back to the tire wear.
“Because if we look not only at France but at all the races past just before France, on average, compared to the entire grid, we were the ones who carried the most at the front. So it was not a single problem in France, but most of the races carried us a lot to the front. “
An in-depth analysis on Ferrari’s simulator at Maranello saw the team attempt to determine if a fundamental design flaw on the Ferrari SF21 was causing the excessive graininess, or if it was a problem that could be solved by configuration changes – with Binotto convinced that the changes the team made as a result of their research had made the front tire wear issues less ‘critical’.
“I think what we found out is that in the end it’s very simple … If you wear it’s because you slip, that simple,” Binotto said. “And if you slide, there are reasons you can slide, and those reasons, it can be a simple setup. You can perfect the rear of the car under braking, have good rear stability but an understeer car.
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“But we changed our set-up in the following races, tried to have more balance in terms of, let me say, understeer to oversteer, tried to slip less forward and manage the tires to this regard, and I think whatever steps we have taken in that direction have turned out to be the right direction to deal with tire wear.
“And in fact in Austria and certainly in the United Kingdom [at Silverstone, where Leclerc challenged for victory], and also following the situation in Hungary, we have shown that in the last races we have been able to have an improvement in terms of the wear of the front tires, and today it does not seem as critical as it was in France.
However, Binotto admitted that Ferrari had been forced to sacrifice a minimum of one-lap pace in order to ensure better handling of their tires during the race, explaining: “I think we may have compromised slightly. [the one-lap pace] but not a lot.
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“I think it’s also up to the riders to adapt to a different kind of set-up, which they do. I think it’s ourselves who learn another kind of balance to use. But I think it’s also really the preparation for the race, which was very important for Silverstone.
“But it’s a learning curve, that too, and that’s obviously a key part when you have front tire wear. This doesn’t mean that in all circuits you have to revisit the way you approach your setup.
Ferrari currently sit third in the constructors’ standings, tied at 163 points with McLaren, as Formula 1 prepares to restart after the summer break at Spa-Francorchamps, where the Belgian Grand Prix takes place this weekend.