With news of Mattia Binotto’s resignation still fresh on everyone’s minds, it’s left many people wondering who will be next to step into Ferrari’s revolving door of team principals? During Binotto’s time at the team, we’ve seen a resurgent Ferrari return to form, but not without the same old strategic errors that have now become synonymous with the prestigious team. In a year that saw Mercedes show uncharacteristically bad form throughout the season, it set the stage for a championship showdown between Redbull and Ferrari, except Ferrari forgot to show up. With the new regulations set to bring the field even closer next year it poses the question, will Mercedes be able to return to their championship winning ways before Ferrari?
When someone brings up the big 3 in F1 your mind immediately thinks of Redbull, Mercedes and Ferrari and whilst the order of the top 2 may be debatable one thing’s for certain, Ferrari are definitely at the back of the list in this modern era of F1. Binotto’s resignation perfectly encapsulated one of the central problems that is causing Ferrari to continuously lag behind their competitors. Ferrari have had 4 team principles in the past 8 years, in contrast to their main rivals Mercedes and Redbull, who have had consistent leadership over a pro longed period of time allowing them to create a stable foundation in which they have been able to build up their championship winning teams respectively. This is significant because Ferrari have not allowed any team principle to stick around long enough to make any real changes to the team beyond the surface, leading to a run of disappointing results and underwhelming performances. The introduction of the new regulations somewhat levelled the playing field and provided the Maranello based team a great opportunity to capitalise off of these new changes and catch up to the teams ahead of them, however they managed to throw this championship away through a series of preventable errors showing that nothing has really changed at the core of the team, despite the rapid succession of multiple team principals. If Ferrari are unable to construct a solid team who can put an end to these easily avoidable errors, it looks as though their championship hopes for the future will only continue to slip further and further out of their grasp.
Although Ferrari fell short of the championship this year, they managed to hold on to P2, just about, but next year this may look to be a much more difficult challenge. With teams such as Mercedes expecting a return to form this could possibly lead to a 3-team battle for the championship. It’s fair to say that Mercedes displayed a clear drop in performance this year in comparison to their previous seasons, but they began show the Mercedes that we’re used to seeing towards the end of the season with George Russell picking up his maiden win along with the team’s first win of the season. If this upward trajectory continues into next year, it offers an enticing look into the possibility of what is to come in 2023. We know that Mercedes are more than capable of winning a title or eight, as they dominated the hybrid era. Mercedes’ biggest problem this season was the completely unpredictable car that they struggled to get a handle on and although that seems like the biggest issue for a team, if they are able to solve this for 2023 there is no reason why they won’t be up there fighting with Rebull to deliver another iconic season that we saw in 2021. For Ferrari they have a much more serious issue at hand, they require a new team structure to be built from the ground up and unlike Mercedes this cannot simply be fixed during the off season. This will be an ongoing process that may take a couple of seasons to see the full results, only serving to further highlight how much of a lost opportunity the 2022 season was, if all the teams are as close as we expect them to be next year then Ferrari will not be afforded to luxury of making as many mistakes as they have this year and still retaining p2 in the championship standings. With Mercedes and Ferrari both battling their own internal problems it’s yet to be seen who will come out on top and who will be first to the title.
Let’s say Ferrari begin to make the changes that are required within the team, could it all be too little too late? During the latter stages of the season small cracks began to show between the team and their drivers, the sarcastic responses from Leclerc and the refusal to carry out team strategies from Sainz emphasise a much bigger problem within the team, the drivers are starting to lose trust in Ferrari. If the drivers begin to lose faith in the team what reason do they really have to stick around? Whilst I don’t believe that Leclerc or Sainz will be jumping ship any time soon, it does make you wonder how much more of this can they take? When their peers have a team that they can rely on the Scuderia drivers are naturally at a disadvantage as they are having to question, and in some cases make up, their own strategy throughout the race. This increased pressure in an already intense environment only leads to more errors and a worsening relationship that will only head in a downward spiral. This issue is not comparable to Russell and Hamilton at Mercedes, as during one of their weakest seasons the one thing that they could both rely on was the team to capitalise on any mistakes that were, ironically, made by Ferrari for the most part. Having drivers’ confidence in the team is integral in achieving any form of success and if the pattern that we have seen with Leclerc and Ferrari continues it looks as though Mercedes will surely beat the historic team to the title in the foreseeable future.
The prospect for next year is still unknown as there are so many unanswered questions; will Redbull’s penalty have any impact on the development of their 2023 car? Will Mercedes build a car that can fight for the championship? Will Ferrari’s new team principle be able to get the team back on track? One thing that we know for sure is that the regulations will continue to bring the teams closer, as we’ve seen this year, and with a plethora of talent on the grid we can look forward to new rivalries, intense battles on track and whatever else the 2023 season has in store for us.