Ferrari eyes Verstappen dominance: Can Miami upgrades save the season?

F1’s focus shifts towards Ferrari’s pursuit of critical updates at upcoming races in Miami and Imola. 2024 has unfolded with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen seemingly easing towards his fourth title in a row, with the season still having a substantial distance to cover.

During the recent Shanghai Grand Prix, Verstappen effortlessly led, controlling the race with unmatched ease. “I could do whatever I wanted with it,” he remarked about his vehicle’s performance. Red Bull team advisor, Dr. Helmut Marko, also reflected on their position, noting, “I think we can start thinking about the world championship again now. Max is one of the greats and he’s not even 27.”

The strategic flexibility Red Bull enjoyed was apparent, as Marko highlighted, “Two-stoppers, three-stoppers, one-stopper, it was all possible today.” However, the dominance displayed by Verstappen is a growing concern for the sport’s competitiveness. Lando Norris, who trails Verstappen, shared his perspective: “We are seeing more dominance than ever,” adding, “so it is never going to be the best to watch and that’s obvious. You have got one of the best drivers ever in F1, in one of the most dominant cars and it is a combination that is deadly.”

While Verstappen celebrated, Ferrari struggled, placing behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez. Ferrari now turns its hopes to significant vehicle enhancements for the next races. Meanwhile, the team dynamic is strained, particularly between teammates Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who experienced a contentious moment during a sprint race. Sainz expressed his frustration without delving into specifics, stating, “I don’t want to comment on that,” but emphasized the impact: “But it’s quite obvious that it cost both of us two positions without any benefit.”

Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported on the growing tension within Ferrari, describing it as a “red shrimp” in China. Amid these challenges, Ferrari’s principal, Frederic Vasseur, downplayed the internal friction and the team’s recent underperformance, attributing part of the struggle to inadequate practice with certain tyres due to the sprint weekend’s structure.

Both Leclerc and Sainz are looking forward to the Miami update. Leclerc shared his optimism: “I think the upgrade in Miami should help us – that’s what we have to focus on now. It will set the direction we go this season, so it’s important we get it right.” Sainz pointed out the disparity to Red Bull, noting the necessity of the updates, “We were very far from Red Bull this weekend, so the updates will be very important for this type of track.”

Vasseur expressed confidence in his team’s efforts back at the factory, stating, “The guys in the factory are pushing like crazy for the next updates.”

GMM

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