Sunday, June 23, 2024

Monaco Grand Prix: ‘Charles Leclerc achieves ultimate dream’

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This was the second Ferrari win in seven races this year, after Sainz’s victory in Australia in March. After a difficult weekend for Red Bull, whose car simply would not work over the bumps and kerbs of Monaco, Leclerc has reduced Max Verstappen’s advantage in the championship from 48 to 31 points.

Red Bull suffered from the same problem they had in Singapore last year, when Verstappen also struggled in a similar way. It seems that the car is optimised to work best at a low front ride-height, and in combination with a stiff suspension, it is a characteristic that makes it particularly unsuited to street circuits.

The Ferrari, by contrast, has been designed to work naturally with a higher front ride-height. This gives two advantages.

First, in low-speed corners, the car naturally has a higher ride-height, so Ferrari will have an automatic advantage there because the car is running closer to its natural sweet spot, so the aerodynamic downforce does not deplete as the car rises.

Secondly, because they can afford to let the car run higher and still be fast, the suspension can also be softer, giving a benefit for kerb – and bump – riding.

This is probably the explanation for why Ferrari have been so strong at street circuits with bumps recently – in Las Vegas last year, Australia this year and now Monaco. And why Red Bull have comparatively struggled.

As Verstappen said this weekend: “We’ve had this problem since 2022. For the last two years, I think we had a car advantage. So then it gets masked a little bit because we gain in the corners where the kerbs and the bumps are not that much of a limitation.

“But with everybody closing up, which is the reality, then you cannot hide any more and you get found out and that’s what happened this weekend. All the street circuits where it is very bumpy we will struggle.”

But of course not all tracks are like that, and there will be others where Red Bull’s natural attributes shine through again. Which is why Leclerc has been counselling caution since before the Monaco weekend got under way.

“I hope that this will bring us to many more wins,” Leclerc said. “But we shouldn’t get carried away.

“I don’t think about the championship for now anyway, and it’s still too early on in the season. I think the upgrades that we have brought [at the last race] in Imola, we have still to see how well they work and where it will bring us. And then it’s all about maximising all weekends, and then hopefully, little by little, we’ll get there.”

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