F-1 starts the season with Max Verstappen at the front and the Dutchman has already shown that he still has the best car, writes Mario Andrada

Formula 1 loves a soap opera. He is enchanted by the art of creating suspense. Even when the dominance of a brand or a driver imposes monotony in the results (see the 2023 World Cup with 23 Red Bull victories in 24 races), F-1 never tires of producing a script of factoids and fake news to keep the media busy and the public interested.

Another hallmark of the top category of motorsport is always competing, even in the game of straws. Many years ago (1989), I went to a dinner with Luís Perez Sala, then a Minardi pilot. He was reporting for the Folha de S.Paulo and I spent 3 weeks in Faenza, the brand’s headquarters, working with the mechanics of the team founded by Giancarlo Minardi.

In the middle of the meal in question, someone produced that famous “Rugic cube”, a classic in the world of puzzles. Luizito had never seen it before and he immediately started to move. To sum up a long journey: Luizito didn’t leave the restaurant until he solved the cube. The family of the owner of the establishment begged him to go to sleep, and even so, the pilot’s stubbornness was invincible.

It is this type of obstinacy that forges F1 champions and keeps the category one of the great attractions on the global sporting calendar. Anyone who waits for the races to enjoy the competition is wrong. F1 is competitive in everything. The battle for the 2024 title began with the presentation of the cars that will be used this year.

Until 2023, the great trick was to hide the main changes by placing some parts from the old car in the new model. This year, the trickery evolved. Mercedes launched its car with a suspension fake (no one even noticed that it would actually be illegal).


Mercedes car for the 2024 Formula 1 season

Red Bull glued a fake side air intake underneath the real one. The car presented came with a vertical air intake on the side of the cockpit, cockpit. The English magazine Autosportthe most respected in the industry, even thought that the Bulls would come with the same “zero-pod” system, without side bumps, that Mercedes used in the last 2 years and it was a huge failure.

Only when Max Verstappen took to the track for pre-season testing in Bahrain did the world realize that Red Bull’s new feature is an ultra-thin, horizontal air intake and not the vertical piece that appeared in the presentation.

Disclosure/Red Bull

Red Bull car for the 2024 Formula 1 season

The world champions also changed the strategy to be followed in the 3 days of pre-season testing. Only Verstappen rode on the 1st day. He tried to establish a storm in the first session and already had all his rivals chasing his mark. The pressure of doing a good test was outsourced to the opponents.

Even if it doesn’t finish the tests at the top of the timesheets, Red Bull has already made it clear that it continues to have the best car and the best driver. Verstappen starts 2024 more in line with his fourth championship than everyone dreamed of. The 1st day of testing ended with the Dutchman 1 second faster than all competitors.

Does it seem like little? Far from it: 1 second advantage every lap suggests that Max has the car to finish a GP 1 minute ahead of 2nd place. In motorsport jargon, 1 minute is a unit of measurement used in astronomy. It is equivalent to 1 light year (1 year traveling at the speed of light) of advantage. Therefore, experts say that opponents will need to install a telescope in their cars if they want to see Verstappen in the races.

Despite Red Bull’s obvious superiority on the first day of testing, the first appearance of the new cars on the track brought good news for those dreaming of an even fight in the world championship. Neither team faced serious problems with their new machines. Williams even joked that it had resolved the problems that its car presented in 2023, but ended up discovering new flaws in this year’s car.

As we don’t know the amount of fuel the machines were carrying when they recorded their best times, nor the total weight of the vehicle, comparing times ends up being a useless exercise. In the tests there is no check for compliance of the regulations as in official races. Teams with less competitive cars tend to run underweight machines to show better results and attract sponsors.

The best indicator for knowing who has problems and who is comfortable is the number of laps completed by each driver. Everyone who completed more than 100 laps per day, a distance equivalent to 2 GPs on the same track, has their new car in order. These are the cases of Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren. Those who have driven little, such as Alpine, Haas and Aston Martin, are still chasing developments in their machines.

With Verstappen comfortably at the head of the times, the tendency is to think that there is nothing new in the front of F-1 for 2024. However, the problem-free journeys of Ferrari and Mercedes indicate that the rivals are starting the year closer to Red Bull than they were in 2023. This is a good sign.

We should have more competitive races even before F-1 returns to Europe, in the 7th stage of the championship. In any case, Verstappen remains a huge favorite to take his 4th title this year.

Source: https://www.poder360.com.br/opiniao/nada-de-novo-no-front/

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