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F1 in China: Red Bull wary of Ferrari despite dominance

F1 in China: Red Bull wary of Ferrari despite dominance
© Reuters
As Formula 1 makes its long-awaited return to China this weekend, Red Bull is tempering expectations regarding their anticipated performance.

As Formula 1 makes its long-awaited return to China this weekend, Red Bull is tempering expectations regarding their anticipated performance.

Despite dominating the early part of the 2024 season, Red Bull faces uncertainty due to Max Verstappen's recent DNF in Melbourne and Ferrari's resurgence, keeping the world championship races close.

Red Bull also encountered unexpected challenges with their car setup and speed in Melbourne.

"I hope we don't have many surprises like in Australia," Dr. Helmut Marko told Sky Deutschland. "The asphalt was so aggressive there."

"We were also completely wrong about the tyre wear, which is where we normally excel," he continued. "We saw with Checo (Perez) that we had a lot of wear."

With the introduction of the 'sprint' format for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, concerns are mounting within the Red Bull camp.

"We hope we are not surprised about tyre wear," Marko remarked, "but I think we know more now about how to respond. But of course, it (China) will be a completely new situation for almost everyone."

Moreover, the Shanghai circuit, which has not hosted an F1 race since the pandemic began, has recently been re-asphalted and smoothed to eliminate some significant bumps.

"We've seen that Ferrari were very competitive in Melbourne but also at Suzuka," noted Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

Fernando Alonso shared with Speed Week, "I think with those long corners and a track a bit like Australia, Ferrari will be quick. But also Red Bull."

Ferrari aims to capitalize in Shanghai, with the next race in Miami and then Imola - where they will introduce their first major car upgrade of the season.

"If the simulator's gains are echoed on the track, it will bring approximately two and a half tenths," reported Sky Italia.

Charles Leclerc is eager to outperform his teammate Carlos Sainz, leveraging his recent simulator work.

"I've spent three days working in the simulator to learn how to get the tyres up to temperature," Leclerc stated. "There will be two qualifyings and two races with a lot of points on the table, so I have to be prepared."

"No one likes to come second - I want to win," he added emphatically.

However, former F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi remains skeptical about Ferrari's readiness.

"They've made progress," Liuzzi told Corriere dello Sport, "but they're not ready for the title. That doesn't mean it won't be a fun championship."

"Then, if reliability problems at Red Bull come back, that could be a big problem for them. I think Ferrari will have a say in many races this year," he predicts.

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Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr celebrates victory at the Australian Grand Prix on March 24, 2024.
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