Ferrari says theories on tyre deg in F1 2022 were a ‘misconception’

Formula 1

The Italian outfit began the year as the team to beat, with Charles Leclerc winning two of the opening three grands prix of the campaign.

As well as having the fastest car in terms of out-and-out pace, the early phase of the season was notable also for Ferrari mostly enjoying better tyre degradation than rival Red Bull.

However, as Red Bull began to take weight off its RB18, its tyre life improved and, by the second half of the season, it was Ferrari that was struggling to look after its rubber as much.

While it looked from the outside that Ferrari had taken a dive with its tyre life, with Red Bull making huge gains, the team does not think things panned out exactly like that.

Instead, it suspects that its reduced tyre life was a consequence of it no longer having the fastest car – which meant its drivers were having to push harder to keep up with Red Bull, and that meant punishing its rubber more.

Jock Clear, Ferrari’s senior performance engineer, said about the impression the team’s tyre degradation got worse: “I think that’s a misconception to be honest.

“I think what we’ve struggled with is ultimate pace. We’ve got two drivers who got used to 12/13 races at the beginning of the year where they could fight toe-to-toe with Red Bull.

“Red Bull pulled out a little bit of a two-tenth gap, which meant that we weren’t quite able to nail the pole positions. So we were playing a little bit of catch up.

“And, of course, then you’re trying to race a car that’s actually quicker than you, and that will just manifest itself in tyre deg I’m afraid. So we don’t think that’s a big issue for us.”

Ferrari pit crew with tyres

Ferrari pit crew with tyres

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Clear reckons that on the races where the performance of the Ferrari and the Red Bull were quite equal, that actually there was little to choose between them in terms of tyre deg.

“Over the course of the year, when the cars were balanced, our tyre deg was slightly better than Red Bulls,” he said.

“But now [at the end of the season] we’re suffering from Charles going out there and just trying to keep up with Red Bull. And unfortunately, it’s a slightly quicker car.

“You just thrash your tyres a little bit too much, trying to hang on to it. And of course, it’s very difficult for Charles to say: ‘Okay, I can’t keep up, I’m just gonna let him go.’ He’s a racing driver. That’s not going to happen.

“So you’re just using a bit too much juice and you pay for that in the long stints.”

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After losing out on the world title to Verstappen, Leclerc reckoned that getting a better grip on tyre management was as important as improving its reliability and strategy for 2023.

“Reliability has been a problem at one point of the season, which we paid the price for later on with penalties and other things,” he said at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

“Strategy, I think we’ve done too many mistakes at one point of the season, and tyre management, we haven’t been consistent enough at our 100 percent.

“Abu Dhabi was a good race but we also sometimes have very bad races and we don’t seem to have the understanding yet of how to have a good tyre management all the time.

“These are the three key aspects in which we are focusing on at the moment.”




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