The iconic figure-of-eight track has always been punishing on its rubber, but things could well be a bit more extreme this time around. Race day is expected to be another scorcher, and complaints that George Russell mentioned on Friday about a "strange" sliding have been caused by a track surface that has had a 15% drop in macro roughness (so effective grip) compared to 12 months ago. As Ferrari's Charles Leclerc said: "Especially with the very warm temperatures this year, the overheating is really, really bad. So, I expect that it [the race] will be all about the tyre management and the strategy." A two-stopper looks nailed on then, but it comes with not all teams having the luxury of what appears to be the ideal tyre allocation to get them through without much drama. F1 tyre supplier Pirelli thinks the best approach to the race is to start on the soft, run through until laps 12-18, and then split the rest of the grand prix up into two hard stints. But that is … [Read more...] about Are Red Bull and Ferrari on back foot for potential Japanese GP tyre wrecker?
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Verstappen took pole at Suzuka by roughly six tenths ahead of McLaren duo Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris . Having both drivers in the top three was a huge result for McLaren, but at the same time, Stella felt it was humbling to see how much faster Verstappen was on the challenging layout, having hoped that his drivers would be closer to the Red Bulls. "We expected to be more competitive than Singapore," Stella said. "We were unsure as to whether this would have put us as second best team, or whether Mercedes and Ferrari would have been there with us. "We were pretty certain that Red Bull would have been the quickest car here, considering the track layout. "If you look at the overlays, Verstappen gains in every kind of speed range, so it's quite remarkable. It gives us again the measure about how much work we have ahead of us." He added: "In fairness, I would have expected to be a little closer. We are P2, P3, it's a good result for the team, but six tenths is a … [Read more...] about Stella: “Remarkable” Red Bull F1 gap highlights scale of McLaren’s work
With Pirelli predicting the best strategy for the Japanese Grand Prix will be a two-stop of soft-hard-hard, it’s advantage McLaren as the Woking team is one of only three outfits where both drivers have those tyres in hand. Oscar Piastri will line up alongside Max Verstappen on the front row of the Japanese Grand Prix, the Aussie having grabbed a career-best grid slot, with Lando Norris sitting third. But while the McLarens didn’t have the pace to challenge Verstappen on Saturday as the reigning World Champion crossed the line an incredible 0.581s faster, they could try for a two-pronged attack on Sunday. McLaren: The only way we can attack Max is tactical And according to Pirelli they have the tyres do it. Formula 1’s tyre supplier believes the best strategy for the Suzuka race is a two-stopper with the driver starting on the soft tyres and then slitting the rest between two sets of hard tyres. On a weekend in which the drivers dealt with high temperatures and … [Read more...] about It’s advantage McLaren in the strategy game at the Japanese Grand Prix
Reports of Red Bull’s reign of dominance over the 2023 season coming to an end have been greatly exaggerated. Advert | Become a Supporter & go ad-free In a year when competition between their rivals behind has been as unpredictable as it has been gripping, Red Bull have routinely rocked up to paddocks across the globe only to crush all opposition with near-militaristic execution. Then, in Singapore, a rare stumble from the world champions offered hope that the Red Bull giant could indeed be toppled. Yet six days later, Red Bull and Max Verstappen reminded everyone just how powerful a combination they are when they stormed to pole position in Suzuka by one of the biggest margins of the season – and the largest for nearly 20 years at the famous Japanese circuit. Not that it was of any surprise to their opposition. “Our internal messaging was ‘expect them to be back out front when we get back to Suzuka’,” admitted Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew … [Read more...] about Verstappen sitting pretty but unexpectedly hot track could cook up drama
After a "nightmare" Friday, Hamilton was much happier with his W14 thanks to overnight changes, but he still faced a tricky balance come qualifying. As high as fourth in Q2, Hamilton took seventh place in Q3, immediately ahead of team-mate George Russell . The outcome clearly benchmarked the Mercedes as the fourth-best car at Suzuka after the Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari . Hamilton admitted that he couldn't have got any more out of the car after some set-up changes overnight. "I was really much, much happy with qualifying," he noted. "Yesterday, it started off looking like it was not going to be so great! But I think the set-up was in the right direction. And then from P3 to qualifying, I made another setup change. "And I was really happy with that. But just really hard to pull any more out of it. I'm already on the knife-edge with the rear end the whole way through the lap, all the way through." He added: "We have a very peaky car. When we talk about … [Read more...] about Hamilton: Lack of rear downforce leaves W14 on “knife-edge” at Suzuka
George Russell believes Mercedes are facing a tough race on Sunday at Suzuka, admitting it’s not the best circuit for the W14. The British driver qualified in eighth place for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, just behind Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton – the swooping and flowing Suzuka circuit not playing to the strengths of the W14. Having been amongst the star performers at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, the contrast from weekend to weekend – particularly with Red Bull resuming their usual position at the front of the field – had George Russell shocked after the qualifying session ended as he was 1.3 seconds slower than Verstappen’s pole time. George Russell: The drop down the field is a shock to the system Speaking to media after claiming his eighth place grid slot in what was a subdued qualifying session from Mercedes, Russell said that their final positions sum up where the car is in the pecking order at a track demanding huge aerodynamic efficiency. “I’d say it’s a … [Read more...] about George Russell ‘shocked’ after seeing gap to Red Bull after qualifying