The Bahrain Formula 1 pre-season test showed that Ferrari may have problems again with tyre degradation.
Ferrari was the runner-up team for Formula 1’s 2022 season, falling behind Red Bull in terms of race pace. One of the main problems attributed to this was tyre life, with the Red Bull RB18 seemingly much more accomplished than the Ferrari F1-75 at keeping the soft Pirelli rubber on for longer. This issue would have been a key focus this year with the Ferrari SF-23, as the Scuderia look to produce a fresh challenger which can write the wrongs of last season. After all, who doesn’t want to win more titles?
However, the three-day F1 2023 pre-season test held in Bahrain did not paint a positive picture for the Italian marque.
Ferrari did accomplish the third-highest lap total out of the teams, a respectable 416 laps, but the tyres fitted to the cars were not in good shape. As described by F1 host Will Buxton, the tyres felt like they were “jumping off a cliff”. This was seen on the C3 compound, which will be the soft tyre for the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix.
Another source, La Gazzetta dello Sport, reported that the excessive tyre wear was influenced by the fact that Ferrari did not take the fuel out of the SF-23. ‘It seems, in fact, that all the series of outings, even the short ones, were carried out with a constant fuel load, with top-ups of 35/40 kg,’ the publication reports.
With the report adding that it is possible Ferrari’s race simulations were done with the fuel load required to complete the actual race distance, this would potentially reveal why the tyres were degrading at a faster rate.
Pressing tyre issues would be fatal for the Ferrari SF-23
Standalone times in testing are seldom a good indicator of which teams are looking strong ahead of a new season. What everyone is interested to see instead, is how a team fares over the long run. In the case of Ferrari, this could be a bit of a worry.
If the team was indeed weighing the SF-23 down with excessive fuel, then that would have potentially caused tyre wear beyond what will be expected in real-race situations.
This is a pretty alarming sign for the Scuderia, who know from experience that it will be a challenge to keep up with Red Bull.
We’ll have to wait till race day in Bahrain to see the true picture.
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