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Both teams were very close on the race pace during the Australian Grand Prix. Those, who will bring better upgrades for the Japanese Grand Prix, may have the tipping point over their competitors for the next 2 weekends. With the recent improvements done by Ferrari, and some bad luck happening to Max Verstappen, the gap between Red Bull and Ferrari has closed significantly. Even without the DNF, it looked like Ferrari was able to catch up to the Red Bull team. Now, both teams announced upgrades for the Japanese Grand Prix, and the question is: who will be able to capitalize on it?

Ferrari’s momentum

SF-24 started as a rather basic car, but according to the team, it provides a great base for bringing upgrades. Initially, the team managed to finally solve their tyre wear issues, which were one of the biggest problems of Scuderria. Despite having a great pace over one lap, they struggled in the race pace, giving Red Bull an advantage. So far, we saw that SF-24 can go longer on the stint, in Australia Carlos Sainz did target +5 laps on his first stint. For the Australian Grand Prix, the team from Maranello brought their first upgrade, which was an improved rear wing.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco steers his car during the first practice session of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park, in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, March 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Scott Barbour)

Red Bull’s lack of data

Max Verstappen had his first DNF in more than 40 races, and the timing for it couldn’t have been worse. It took only a couple of laps into the race, but since the lights out, he had an issue with a stuck brake. Not only it cost him 25 points in the championship, but also highly disrupted the data collection for the team. What made the situation worse, was a technical problem with the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez. A visor tear off got stuck in his car and made it impossible for him to chase the leading pack.

The Red Bull team announced they will bring an improved version of their sidepods for the Japanese Grand Prix. Knowing how Adrian Newey can “see air”, it may make Red Bull dominate the whole weekend, as long as the upgrades work well with the rest of the car.

Whose upgrades for the Japanese grand prix will be better?

It’s hard to say, both teams historically did very well on Suzuka, but in my opinion, it will be Red Bull back to the top of the podium. Max will be even more determined to prove that the DNF from Australia was just a bad day in the office, and will want to bounce back to the top. On the other hand, Sergio Perez had some awful races in the past, so he may not be able to fully capitalize on the advantageous RB20. So although Max is expected to win, Ferrari may take the remaining podium positions and deliver a good bunch of points for the Constructors Championship.

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