Red Bull, Ferrari take updated cars to Japan

Thu, 4 April 2024, 09:00

Apr.4 (GMM) Multiple F1 teams are set to introduce significant car upgrades this weekend at Suzuka – including top teams Red Bull and Ferrari.

De Telegraaf, a prominent Dutch newspaper with sources close to the Max Verstappen camp, says the 2024 Red Bull will benefit from “a significant package of updates” in Japan.

And Italy’s La Repubblica says Ferrari’s update is a “small modification to the rear suspension”, ahead of a bigger package of changes still scheduled for the sport’s return to Europe at Imola.

So after Carlos Sainz led home a Ferrari one-two in Melbourne, Red Bull figures are not complacent ahead of Suzuka even though the car is expected to shine brightly through the high-speed technical curves at Suzuka.

“The other teams have clearly closed the gap,” Sergio Perez said at the F1 Tokyo Festival on Wednesday. “Especially in qualifying, it’s often within half a tenth.

“So one or two tenths can make a big difference,” the Mexican added. “That applies not only to qualifying but also the race.”

One complication at Suzuka this weekend could be the weather, with rain expected – and even a tsunami alert in place after the earthquake in Taiwan.

“It’s spring but it’s raining today,” Verstappen laughed on Wednesday. “I came to Japan a week ago and enjoyed some skiing in Niseko. “I enjoy being in Japan at this time of year. The calendar makes a bit more sense now.

“I think it’s important to have a change of pace in order to compete in F1, with so many races,” the championship leader said after his rare technical DNF in Australia.

“That’s why I’m glad that I was able to ski, which I love, and have some time to feel fresh again. Now we want to show again that we are very fast.

“Over the past two years but especially last year, Suzuka was a very good weekend for me,” Verstappen added. “Hopefully we can do something similar this weekend.”

As for his brake defect in Melbourne, he’s remaining philosophical. “It’s a very long season so I try to look at everything very neutrally, both the highs and the lows.

“We did not find anything that indicates any fundamental problems with the car.”

Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur also attended the Tokyo event, where he sounded optimistic about continuing to inch closer to the Red Bull pacesetters.

“We’ve made a significant step forward this year, and we hope we will be in a position to fight with Red Bull and Max until the end,” said the Frenchman.

“Melbourne was our best race, but we weren’t far behind the Red Bulls anywhere. The gaps are very small now. Everyone is very evenly matched.

“It’s a great feeling to travel to travel to a country and know that you can win the race. We didn’t do that well here last year, but in these types of corners, the fast corners, we have become better than last year.

“We are only talking about gaps of one or two tenths per lap now. That means that everything is open, even if I am convinced that Red Bull will be very strong here,” added Vasseur.

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