New technical directive: Verstappen’s (Red Bull) victory at Spa showed that hell was for others

New technical directive: Verstappen's (Red Bull) victory at Spa showed that hell was for others
Above all, don’t talk to them about a “Mercedes-style” victory. At Red Bull, any comparison – even flattering – with the sworn enemy is prohibited. Sunday, after the crushing victory of Max Verstappen at the Belgian Grand Prix, which was incidentally one of the most express comebacks in history, Christian Horner preferred to evoke a performance worthy of “2010 or 2013”. The great Red Bull era.

If the Austrian team is rolling, it is precisely because many expected to see its margin over the competition shrink at Spa-Francorchamps. This 14th round of the Championship effectively marked the entry into force of a new technical directive (TD039) which, on paper, was to cause a few headaches to the dominant team this season, as well as to its main competitor, know Ferrari.

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Two and a half months ago, after an Azerbaijan Grand Prix marked by an epidemic of acute porpoising, the FIA ​​announced its measures to control and limit the phenomenon, in order to preserve the health of the pilots. It established a kind of tolerance threshold, established on an extremely complex mathematical formula, beyond which the teams would be ordered to raise their ride height. And thus to sacrifice part of their performance to protect their pilots’ backs, necks and brains.

Red Bull and Ferrari exploited a gray area

By carrying out its first measurements, the instance discovered a subterfuge used by certain teams – which it obviously did not name. These managed to use the flexibility of the board (a composite part fixed under the flat bottom), limited by the specifications, in order to counter porpoising and gain performance. All without infringing the regulations, since the measurement points were taken at specific locations, and not at others. And therefore not on the areas where the flexion could reach up to 6 mm, against only 2 mm authorized.

To listen to certain actors, in particular Toto Wolff, who had described these revelations as “full shock“, you had to understand that this was one of the tricks found by the other two “Top Teams” to subdue the rest of the field. Ferrari having regularly had the fastest car in qualifying, Red Bull having the most often dominated on running pace.

The technical directive introduced just before the Belgian Grand Prix made this find illegal. Despite this, the thinking heads of the Red Bull team never really seemed worried throughout the weekend. “I think it’s not a major problem for us“, had assured Christian Horner from the start of the weekend.

The margin with which Max Verstappen secured pole position (0″632), the highest in dry conditions, had already given the first clues. Even if the fresh engine mounted in the world champion’s single-seater, as well as the nature of the layout, already gave the Dutchman an advantage.”Can Max prevail? We don’t mean to sound arroganthad thus confided Helmut Marko, Red Bull adviser, on Sky Germanydespite the penalty imposed on the driver. But I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Ferrari suffered, not Red Bull

Starting 14th, Verstappen moved up the peloton in the blink of an eye, and took the lead in the Grand Prix on the 12th lap, after Carlos Sainz’s first stop. And after his own passage through the pit lane, he made up for a deficit of 4.8 in less than three laps. For a very clear victory. What to jubilate against those who promised him much more difficulties. “Yes, this directive has been very, very bad for us“, he smiled afterwards.

I should thank Toto for the new technical guidelinehad fun Christian Horner, never short of inspiration when it comes to making fun of his counterpart at Mercedes, in remarks relayed by There were a lot of expectations around this point of settlement. When in fact he may have done more harm to others than to ourselves.”
Others“, they are… Ferrari’s rivals. Never, this season, have the two Scuderia drivers had such a feeling of helplessness against the Red Bulls. Including that of Sergio Pérez. This time, the Italian team could not compete, including in the winding sectors.

Saturday, in qualifying, Verstappen was the fastest in all the corners, with the exception of Combes. This could suggest that the Prancing Horse had to review certain settings, and possibly its ride height, to stay within the new nails of the regulations. The tortuous circuit of Zandvoort, which hosts the 15th round of the season this weekend, will certainly give a clearer idea of ​​the difficulties now encountered by Ferrari.

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