Tire wear is where Red Bull F1 makes the difference

Tire wear is where Red Bull F1 makes the difference

McLaren’s Norris took pole position in the Brazilian Grand Prix and finished second behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and this result was repeated in Sunday’s Grand Prix after Norris jumped from sixth on the grid to second in the first turn.

But as the rival teams faded and the race finished more than 30 seconds behind the dominant Verstappen, who claimed a record 17th win of the season, Norris was the only driver able to stay close to the Dutchman, finishing just eight seconds behind Verstappen after Matching Red Bull lap times. For large periods of the race.

Plus: The decisive lap that turned the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix from Norris to Verstappen

But as the high degradation race progressed, Norris could be seen sliding back throughout his laps, explaining: “I’m not too far behind in the first 10 to 15 laps but in that final stretch, I fell back a little bit.”

Team boss Stella admitted that amid McLaren’s impressive developments this season, which has turned into Red Bull’s most consistent rival in recent months, tire management is the one area where Red Bull still stands out.

The Italian explained: “I think the difference lies mainly in the lap times on the used tires.” “We saw that on the new tyres, we can fight for position.

“But once the tires deteriorated, it would be like with Max and Red Bull, where they could have less deterioration. The tires were degrading maybe a tenth every two laps.

McLaren makes a pit stop on Oscar Piastri's car, the McLaren MCL60

Photography: Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

McLaren makes a pit stop on Oscar Piastri’s car, the McLaren MCL60

“It’s a huge amount of degradation, and if you can limit that, after 10 laps in the job, that’s tenths of a second, so I think that’s where they excel at the moment.”

The team has come a long way in 2023 with its various upgrades, which have also helped with tire wear, but will need to wait for the 2024 car to make the biggest gains on that front.

“Where we think the difference has been made is there is only so much we can do with this car,” added Stella.

“The car has improved with the Singapore upgrade in terms of tire management, but not enough to be competitive, especially when the degradation is high. We have seen some other cars deteriorate a lot, such as Mercedes and Ferrari.”

Stella said he was amazed at how much Ferrari and especially Mercedes struggled to control tire deterioration in Sao Paulo, where Lewis Hamilton dropped to eighth and George Russell was on the verge of dropping out of the points altogether before retiring.

“It’s a bit of a surprise, because normally, when you have this high level of deterioration, that’s when Mercedes actually seems to be doing well,” he said.

He added: “We are not sure why this happened. Even from Ferrari’s point of view, I expected Ferrari to be more competitive.”

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