Formula 1 Racing

Red Bull had no F1 tyre advantage at high-graining Melbourne

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

An overheating right-rear brake for Max Verstappen, an issue that hobbled him from the start, forced his early retirement as Carlos Sainz led team-mate Charles Leclerc for a Ferrari 1-2.

McLaren split the strategies of its drivers. Lando Norris was faster late on so allowed to pass Oscar Piastri in a team orders switch at the latter’s home race, as they bagged a 3-4 result.

Sergio Perez finished fifth, gaining only one place in the race thanks to Verstappen’s woes.

Stella believes that even without the reigning champion’s troubles, the RB20s would not have enjoyed a tyre advantage in Melbourne – as the car had in the season-opening Bahrain GP.

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At the end of a weekend during which tyre graining on both the front and rear left corner was a major factor, Stella said: “In Bahrain, Red Bull was the only car that comfortably used the soft tyres.

“But in Bahrain, you have no graining at all. No way that you are going to grain because you don’t have enough grip to stress the tyres and strain the rubber to a point where the rubber generates graining.

“[Australia is a] completely different regime compared to Bahrain.

“But still, I would say, harnessing this matter from an engineering point of view and saying, ‘Oh, it’s very clear what we need to do on the car to be OK in Bahrain, and to be OK here’ – that’s not straightforward at all.

“Otherwise, everyone would be in a good spot. It’s really difficult.

“But I think even [in final practice] when Verstappen attempted a long run – that wasn’t a good long run.

“We took a look at his tyres at the end of the long run, and they were pretty finished in 10-15 laps or so.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Stella reckoned, though, there was high chance the tyre behaviour could have changed “dramatically” had conditions been only marginally different.

He added: “Red Bull did not enjoy any advantage, apparently, from a tyre handling point of view, in a track where the tyres were very soft and graining.

“It could be that we go in a similar track and things actually be slightly different – it’s one of the problems that you would call non-linear.

“You change a little bit the conditions and the solution changes dramatically. That’s typically what happens with tyres.”

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