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to be or not to be – doubled – before the ‘tifosi’

In Spa its pilots did not know where to take the SF21. especially the Dutch GP. The crash at Zandvoort came despite the technical surg

to be or not to be – doubled – before the ‘tifosi’


In Spa its pilots did not know where to take the SF21. especially the Dutch GP. The crash at Zandvoort came despite the technical surgery that Ferrari had undergone on his car after Paul Ricard’s syncope when on Sunday he fell off the cliff of his tires turned to stones on the final stretch. aboard a Ferrari is an experience only suitable for the chosen and privileged. Feeling the energy of the tifosi at an Italian GP places a Formula 1 driver in another dimension. Especially in the case of Carlos Sainz, who appears for the first time before the Tifosi dressed in red, one of the most unique days of his career, as he recognized in Spa.

But the Spaniard and Ferrari will face one of the toughest races of the season precisely on ‘their’ circuit, still floating the disaster of 2020, the most depressing moment that symbolized the final sixth place in the classification, the worst of the Italian team in forty years. The race next weekend also offers a great opportunity to recover from the last two blows, but Monza is the worst place for it.

Sainz makes his Ferrari debut at Monza after two disconcerting races for the team, and with his own to-dos. But the Italian circuit is presented as a kind of enemy at home despite the return of the tifosi to the stands -half of their capacity-, historically uncompromising in the face of the failure of their own.

Personality disorder

Monza stands out from the rest of the championship. Demands a unique aerodynamic configuration to go on tiptoe and unloaded from the wing in search of the highest speeds. Maximum possible power and minimum drag, the perfect cocktail. But that must be combined with the flavor of the variants, Prima, Roggia, Ascari, which demand a radically opposite behavior: stability in intense braking, good mechanical grip with greedy suspensions for pianos, and agility in very rapid changes of direction. Whether the SF21 would digest such a combination well represents an unknown quantity. Because it languishes in one field while it has shone in the other this season.

The Italian car has offered a marked personality disorder during 2020 according to what temperatures and types of compounds -especially the hard ones-. Ferrari seemed to have controlled that schizophrenia within the margin that a car practically frozen since last year allows. “We modified our set-up in the following races (from the trauma of Paul Ricard)”, explained Mattia Binotto in the summer break to take stock of the first part of the championship, “we try to modify the balance, let’s say from understeer to oversteer, slide less with the front tires and manage them better, and the steps we have taken have gone in the right direction “, in reference to that emergency treatment of pilots and engineers in the simulator.

The last two cakes

In practice, Ferrari lost some ‘punch’ on Saturdays to gain consistency on Sunday. The shot was parried from the Red Bull Ring and some unexpected hooks were taken out at Silverstone. At the Hungaroring the trend continued. Even a high-speed spa that shares traits with Monza. There, the SF21 was wrecked in all kinds of conditions when Ferrari tried to unload its car to the maximum to make up for that lack. Neither dry, nor in water, neither nose nor tail.

In Zandvoort, with very different characteristics, Ferrari seemed to break that technical line of which Binotto spoke. Betting on Saturday’s box, Ferrari failed on Sunday for prioritizing performance to one lap that would compensate for the difficulty of overtaking in the race. Sainz collapsed brutally. With the two folded cars. The ghosts of Paul Ricard were walking through Maranello again. Sainz, with a particular technical sensitivity, did not understand anything. Now Ferrari arrives at Monza with two good stones on top in the last two races. Bad omens to appear before the tifosi.

Because Monza looks even more lethal than Spa for the Italian power unit. If there is a route that reveals these deficiencies, it is precisely the ‘Temple of Speed’. It is to be expected that the same discharge scheme as in Spa will be repeated at Monza to compensate for the lower power. How the SF21 responds remains to be seen. Because the Italian track may also offer lifeguards in the form of the track’s chicanes. The antecedents of Monaco and Baku play in favor, where Ferrari achieved two poles thanks to the traction capacity and agility in the change of direction of the SF21. Will Monza give Ferrari with his left hand what he will take away with his right to avoid the ‘pajara’ of the last two great prizes?

Character test

Sainz, Leclerc and the technicians are working this week on different combinations of settings and environmental conditions to find that balance. A virtual job more necessary than in any other track because there will only be one hour of free practice on Friday, to then go on to the qualifying practice of the sprint race, the second time that the format is repeated in 2021. Therefore, they will not be one but two races ahead of the tifosi. For his part, the Spaniard will need to have found answers to Spa’s surprising disappointment, as well as stand up to his teammate in front of the Tifosi, especially in the one-lap performance. For the Spaniard, his debut will be a test of character, surrounded by the pressure, but also the encouragement, that Monza exerts on his team.

Paradoxically, the Italian team lands in the Cathedral third in the championship thanks to the unexpected hit of McLaren in Zandvoort. The progression compared to last season is evident. “If we look at the times, the pure performance of the car, if we take the average of the whole season in practice, we were 1.4 from pole, and today we are 0.7 seconds away ”, Binotto also explained in August. It is still a distance, it is not negligible, we are aware, but I think we have reduced the difference with the rest ”. True, but Monza should be the setting to confirm it. It will not be easy. Last year, Leclerc qualified 1.3 seconds behind Mercedes. It ended up crashed in the Parabolica. Vettel left at the first change. In 2020, a humiliation must be avoided at all costs: to be doubled before the tifosi who return after two years of absence. Of course, the season has shown that anything can be expected from SF21’s schizophrenia.