Having attended my first Grand Prix this past weekend at Silverstone, I can safely say that it exceeded all expectations. We were treated to quite the spectacle, with a weekend that saw a mixed-up grid after a wet qualifying and an unbelievably dramatic race that managed to grip your attention from lights out to the chequered flag. Silverstone kept everyone on the edge of their seats until the very end. The race unfortunately kicked off with a terrifying first lap collision, causing multiple retirements but thankfully saw all drivers walk away from the incidents with no major injuries. From there on out we saw a tense restart, a safety car restart and incredible racing in a thrilling battle for the lead. In this exhilarating battle, that ran throughout the entirety of the race, it initially seemed as though it would be Ferrari vs Redbull again, however once Verstappen picked up damage to the floor of his car, after running over debris form Tsunoda’s Alpha Tauri, it provided Ferrari with the perfect opportunity to secure a much-needed win for Leclerc and begin to close the 46-point gap between the two title contenders. With everything beginning to fall in Ferrari’s favour they provided Leclerc with the perfect strategy to finally mount a comeback and make a dent in Verstappen’s championship by collecting a grand total of … 6 extra points. Let’s talk about it.
Prior to the start of the 2022 season there was a significant buzz surrounding Ferrari, with many predicting that they would be the ones to beat in this new era of Formula One. Their season started off strong with Leclerc taking the first win in Bahrain and it seemed as though this season was poised to see a colossal championship battle between Ferrari and Redbull. Now that we are 10 races in, Ferrari are trailing 63 points behind Redbull in the Constructors standings and Leclerc is sitting 43 points behind Verstappen in 3rd place in the Driver’s standings, so how did we get here?
Despite Ferrari’s strong start to the season their early lead began to take a drastic drop downhill in Spain as Ferrari’s reliability would first come into question, this run of bad races has seemingly continued and the championship now looks to be slipping through Ferrari’s fingertips on accord of their own mistakes. Although the 3 DNF’s that Ferrari have encountered have been far from ideal, they have been helped out by their rivals also experiencing a run of poor reliability, with Redbull racking up 4 DNF’S since the start of the season. This would initially look as though the playing field has been levelled out between the two teams, however it is Ferrari’s own incompetence, when it comes to their strategy, that is costing them a shot at the championship. Having now cost Leclerc two race wins through poor strategy calls that no one else can still make sense of it begs the question, are Ferrari ready to fight for a championship?
As seen in last year’s epic battle every point gained will be crucial in deciding who takes the title this year and Ferrari cannot afford to drop the ball as they have been doing, especially when their main rival is making no such mistakes and Mercedes are on the precipice of a resurgence that could see them have a heavy hand in deciding the outcome of the championship. In spite of whether you love or hate Redbull and the way they run their team, it is evident to everyone that they have clearly established who their number one driver is and they will do everything they can to secure as many points as possible for Verstappen, regardless of whether the decision is popular or not. This has allowed Redbull to capitalise on the instability in Ferrari and extend their lead, leaving the team in red to argue amongst themselves whilst their rivals disappear off into the distance. Ferrari are in the midst of an internal power struggle between the two drivers as they have failed to assert who their number one driver is, they are attempting to keep everyone happy and are only sabotaging themselves in the process. Sainz has shown on multiple occasions that he has been able to call the right strategy by directly opposing what he has been instructed to by his team. His insistence on pitting for slicks in Monaco and refusal to create a gap of 10 car lengths at the Silverstone restart proved to be pivotal in securing a second place and his maiden win at the British GP. The most concerning thing about this is that Sainz is the driver and, whilst he is relied on to provide input, it is ultimately the job of the strategists to use all of the information that they have available to them to make the right call. Sainz’s experience has proved to be a key factor in determining his best career results at Ferrari so far and although Leclerc is undoubtedly the quicker driver, he seems to be lacking the authoritative decision making that his teammate is showing and is instead blindly trusting in a team that continue to fail him.
With Leclerc’s increasing frustration becoming more and more evident at each race this leads me to question, how much longer can this go on before Ferrari reach breaking point? Following the end of the British GP, it would appear as though Binotto publicly scolded the Monegasque driver after he began to air out his frustrations over the team radio. Leclerc’s future with Ferrari is contractually secure until 2024, however if the team do not improve is it feasible to believe that he will put up with these rookie mistakes that are costing him a world title? The foundation of the team must remain strong in order for any progress to be made but as the tension and errors build up it could begin to create cracks in the team that cannot be repaired. Ferrari have to pull themselves together to come back stronger and really take the fight to Redbull in the second half of the season if they stand a chance of winning the championship this year.
Only time will tell if Ferrari can pull their act together in time to salvage a world title, they have the car capable of a winning a championship and a driver that can fight for the title, but it is their own blunders that are limiting what they can achieve this year. They have the ability to take Redbull right to the end of this championship fight but at the moment they are fighting with one hand behind their back which they have confusingly inflicted on themselves.