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Formula 1: Why Baku could be the make-or-break race for Ferrari this season?

It has been a humbling start for Ferrari in the Formula One season so far, losing all three of the opening races to Mercedes.

Abhranil Roy
Last updated: 25.04.2019
Why Baku could be the make-or-break race for Ferrari this season | Sports Social Blog

It has been a humbling start for Ferrari in the Formula One season so far, losing all three of the opening races to Mercedes and securing a podium finish in only two of those. Despite there being 18 races to go, the Italian car-makers lag the German outlet by 57 points already and it is time for them to pull up their socks and figure out a way to break the Valtteri Bottas-Lewis Hamilton stranglehold for the first and second spots.

Ferrari has looked off the pace so far…

At testing in Barcelona during the pre-season, Ferrari looked set to match Mercedes, blow for blow. However, they were blown away in Australia and China, with Bahrain being the only track on which they have had some rhythm or pace going for them. However, an untimely mechanical problem for Ferrari’s new recruit Charles Leclerc meant that despite being certain to win, he had to be contended with a fifth spot.

What changes will Ferrari make for Baku?

According to Ferrari team principle Mattia Binotto, his team will have answers ready for the critical Baku circuit. In an interview to The Guardian, he said, “Baku is a circuit where you have a different aero configuration, so it’s not only power units and straight-line. It will be aero configuration, it’s not only the straight in Baku, it’s a lot of corners, it’s a city circuit and is very difficult in that respect.”

Further, Binotta confirmed that their car, SF 90 will undergo its first series of developments for the race in Baku. It is important to note that Mercedes has already made several changes to their cars in each of the races so far, including a reprofiled front wing for Shanghai.

Can Ferrari finally kickstart their season in Baku?

Truth be told, Ferrari are the bookies’ favorite in Azerbaijan. Baku has the longest straight sector in the F1 circuit of 2.2 kilometres, which gives the Scuderia a distinct straight-line speed advantage. However, the middle part of the race is a very technical one, with tight corners dominating almost every turn. As such, Ferrari will have to balance between lower down force to maximize speed and tyre grip, whose temperatures could be drastically affected due in the aforementioned turns.

Interestingly, tyres have posed a problem for Ferrari in both Australia and China and Binotto expects a similar challenge in Baku. He is under no illusions that it will not be an easy race, but that they would have to fish out a result anyway. Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will both have to be top on their game as well, if they are to outmaneuver Bottas and Hamilton from locking another front grid.

Losing more points to Mercedes could mean that their ever-loosening grip on the title slips further, and with this being the last non-European race up til September 2019, they could have a humongous bridge that might just be impossible to cross anymore.

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