RACING

How Ferrari escaped its F1 title hopes in 10 races

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  • Ferrari has started eight times in 2022 but turned that into just four wins.
  • Only in a few of these races, like in Miami, do these races come down to the performance of the Ferrari F1-75 against Red Bull’s RB18.
  • Ferrari must take full responsibility for its predicament, but its drivers also made a mistake and were unlucky in the process.

    Ferrari’s early season promise in the Formula 1 championship is only a fading memory as Charles Leclerc saw a 46-point lead turn into an 80-point deficit to Max Verstappen in just 10 F1 Grand Prix.

    In the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari find themselves buried 97 points behind Red Bull after leading the current leaders by 49 points after three races.

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    Ranking of F1 drivers after 3 races

    1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 71 years old
    2. George Russell, Mercedes, 37
    3. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 33 years old
    4. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 30 years old
    5. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 28
    6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 25
      1. Current F1 driver standings after 13 races

        1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 258
        2. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 178
        3. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 173 years old
        4. George Russell, Mercedes, 158
        5. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 156 years old
          1. With Maranello’s title drought looking set to extend into a 14th year, Automatic week analyzes Ferrari’s dramatic downfall, its weaknesses and where it goes next.

            Strategy puzzle

            Ferrari has started eight times in 2022 but turned that into just four wins. Only in a few of these races, like in Miami, do these races come down to the performance of the Ferrari F1-75 against Red Bull’s RB18.

            Adopting the wrong strategy robbed Leclerc of a realistic shot at three wins.

            • In Monaco, Leclerc was leading in wet conditions but was undermined at the first stop – a serve which was an unnecessary interjection from Ferrari as Leclerc wanted to go longer on wet tires – and at his second stop was mistakenly brought into the same lap than teammate Carlos Sainz, resulting in a delay. The first became fourth.

            Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have seen a dream season turn into disappointment.

            Rudy Carezzevoli – Formula 1Getty Images

            • In Britain, Leclerc worked his way to leading an intriguing race, but during a late safety car period Ferrari held him out on worn hard tyres, while rivals immediately behind, including Sainz, came for fresh Softs. The softer, newer rubber was noticeably quicker and despite his best efforts with a defensive masterclass, Leclerc dropped to fourth. Sainz won, but Ferrari lost 1-2 amid confused thinking.

            • Hungary were another howler. Ferrari put leader Leclerc on the hard tires for the third stint but badly underestimated the compound not activating in atypically cool conditions. They hadn’t used the tire in Friday practice, and their rivals had struggled a lot on it earlier in the race, but opted for the white-striped compound anyway. Leclerc immediately realized his predicament and lambasted the tire performance as he gave up the lead and lost so much time that a third stop for Softs was needed, dipping to sixth. In the aftermath, Leclerc was confident Ferrari had the speed for victory, but team boss Mattia Binotto explained victory was not possible on any strategy. The focus didn’t seem to be on why Ferrari chose a tire that didn’t work, but why the car couldn’t run the tire.

            In those three Grands Prix, Leclerc had a 75-point potential down to 30. Binotto has given off a calm aura in response to criticism, and he’s right not to throw the team under the bus. Behind the scenes, it would be irresponsible if in-depth conversations weren’t undertaken regarding the team’s strategy and crucial decisions under pressure.

            Reverse of reliability

            High reliability is often the backbone of title-winning teams; Michael Schumacher spent nearly four years at Ferrari with no end-of-race mechanical issues, while Lewis Hamilton last had a terminal in-race reliability issue in mid-2018. Ferrari has already had costly failures in 2022.

            Leclerc retired from a comfortable lead in Spain due to powertrain failure while another problem brought his F1-75 to a standstill in Azerbaijan as he led in a staggered but eminently feasible strategy. Big points lost. The failures meant that Leclerc had to take a penalty to Canada – round 9 – exceeding his annual component allowance. From behind he scored fifth, but that was more dropped points, with Sainz’s close pursuit of Verstappen indicating Leclerc had the potential to start up front.

            Sainz was also affected.

            • In Australia, a problem in Q3 delayed his out lap, leading to tire overheating issues that cost him lap time, and on Sunday’s grid a steering wheel change was followed by an anti-stall at the beginning.

            • In Azerbaijan, a hydraulic failure turned a fourth-place start into a 20th-place finish.

            • In Austria, he was about to take second place from Verstappen when the engine failed and fried the rear of the car. As with Leclerc, a back-of-the-grid penalty followed, in France, and he mirrored his team-mate by recovering to fifth. It’s highly likely that both drivers will need new engine components in the final nine rounds, leading to another start in the back row.

            PU issues have also surfaced at customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas, where Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen have exceeded their 2022 allocation. It’s a major disappointment for Ferrari after its powertrain reliability was a key asset of its reconstruction campaign in 2021.

            verstappen leclerc

            Charles Leclerc, right, saw Max Verstappen, left, catch him and take the championship lead after Leclerc got off to a fast start,

            FERENC ISZAGetty Images

            Driver errors

            Ferrari must take full responsibility for its predicament, but its drivers also made a mistake and were unlucky in the process.

            Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc both made two big mistakes in the race, but Verstappen recovered from a gritty excursion in Spain and a 360 degree spin in Hungary to take the win. Leclerc’s aggressive pursuit of Sergio Perez at Imola resulted in a spin that caused damage, requiring a pit stop, dropping him to sixth place. His header spin in France ended in the wall, with only cosmetic damage, but he was out – resulting in the seismic loss of 25 points at a pivotal point in the season. Leclerc’s borderline animal cry at the realization of his blunder underlined this.

            F1 Constructors’ Championship after 3 races

            1. Ferrari, 104
            2. Mercedes, 65 years old
            3. Red Bull, 55 years old
              1. Current F1 Constructors’ Championship after 13 races

                1. Red Bull, 431
                2. Ferrari, 334
                3. Mercedes, 304
                  1. Sainz, too, made costly mistakes. After a slow start in Australia, partly triggered by mechanical problems, a panicked Sainz tried to regain lost positions too quickly and spun through the gravel.

                    Next time out at Imola he crashed out in qualifying leaving him 10th, although the resulting retirement after contact with Ricciardo was not his fault. These successive one-lap outings also hampered Sainz’s early learning process with the F1-75 as he struggled to understand the car’s nuances. A home rotation in Spain compromised his strategy while being too aggressive in qualifying in Canada cost him a front row start, from where he would have had a better chance of beating Verstappen in the race.

                    Opposition strength

                    Leclerc’s tally of 178 points after 13 Grands Prix isn’t great. It should be higher, but Ferrari’s weaknesses have been highlighted by the strength of Red Bull and Verstappen.

                    red bull racing's max verstappen celebrates with adrian newey

                    Points leader Max Verstappen celebrates his latest victory in Hungary.

                    Marco CanonnierGetty Images

                    Despite a rotten start, with two failures for a superb Saudi victory, Verstappen amassed 258 points. This has been helped by improved Sprint points for 2022, but it’s a high total after 13 Grands Prix.

                    It wasn’t a perfect run – Verstappen was atypically subdued in Monaco and his run in Britain was hampered by debris – but he was a potent force while assuming a calmer, more assured figure at the behind realizing his dream of going global. Champion. Verstappen and Red Bull’s race management has been excellent, particularly in relation to his sometimes subdued one-lap performance, with the Dutchman looking to iron out the understeer that was more prominent at the start of the season.

                    Verstappen has a record eight wins in the season and could seriously threaten the all-time record of 13 in a year. Arguably only Imola was a dominant win with no problem from light to flag, others coming through racing, strategy or taking advantage when Ferrari’s prospects crumbled – sometimes due to pressure which he applied himself. And even with an 80-point title advantage, Verstappen was quick to point out post-race RB18 shortcomings in Hungary rather than rest on his laurels.

                    A weaker opponent may have softened the impact of Ferrari’s mistakes, but Verstappen is a strong opponent.

                    Inexperience

                    It may seem silly to associate Ferrari with inexperience. After all, it is the most legendary team in Formula 1, with the most victories and world titles. So experience should definitely not be a problem.

                    f1 hungarian grand prix

                    Mattia Binotto has been team principal at Ferrari since 2019.

                    NurPhotoGetty Images

                    Yet they are actually still a young team, especially compared to Mercedes and Red Bull Racing. Team principal Binotto, although a dyed-in-the-wool Ferrari stalwart, has only been his team principal since 2019, when there was significant restructuring due to past failures.

                    Red Bull, meanwhile, has had its top executives in place for over a decade. A large part of Binotto’s mission has been to undertake a culture change, removing the blame game, which has led to an ineffective organization in recent years when individuals were naturally risk averse.

                    This Ferrari team just isn’t grizzled and hardened by experience. Leclerc, while only two weeks younger than Verstappen, has three years less Formula 1 experience and is in the middle of his maiden title campaign compared to the reigning champion.

                    Ferrari and Leclerc, while closing the gap, still have a long way to go to win its first Formula 1 constructors’ championship since 2008.

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