August 12, 2022

Now that Ferrari has a competitive car capable of winning races and championships again, the latest demonstrations have shown that its sense of the title should be questioned. An 80-point swing between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in just five races is proof enough.

Leclerc has taken pole in six of eight rounds in 2022 so far but has just two wins to prove, as the Red Bull driver has won five of the six races he has completed heading to Canada.

Admittedly, Verstappen’s relentless consistency and strong overtaking have played a part in his success this year, but Ferrari have once again shot themselves in the foot too many times.

This isn’t the first time this has happened either.

Fernando Alonso at Silverstone

For starters, think back to Silverstone in 2010. Fernando Alonso started third but suffered a slow breakaway and got stuck behind the Renault of Robert Kubica.

He made a move around the outside at Vale, but cut the trail in doing so. Race director Charlie Whiting said he had asked Ferrari three times to get Alonso to return the position, but the Spaniard ignored him and was then awarded a passing penalty which left him lost the points.

Given that he finished just four points behind Sebastian Vettel in the championship (Vitaly Petrov surely haunting his dreams after being stuck behind for most of the final race), a moment of clarity from the driver or the wall of the pits could well have earned him a third title. . Although a crash due to pilot error at Spa and engine failure in Malaysia didn’t help matters either.

It’s not like they don’t have the riding skills to compete either. We definitely have to say that Alonso has driven the wheels of his Ferrari at times, with 2012 coming to mind.

He should have been a long way from being in contention for the title in the first place, having won just three of 20 races that year – but he still came within three points of glory. A very impressive feat, as heartbreaking as missing it.

Ferrari creates headaches

But Ferrari has had more recent examples of problems of its own making. Consider 2017 in particular, when the Scuderia matched Mercedes by creating a front car when a new specification was introduced.

With Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in place and five world titles between them, their combined driver duo was arguably the strongest on the grid in their time together as teammates.

Vettel also battled Lewis Hamilton, both commercial race victories for much of the first half of the season, and the Ferrari driver even led the world championship with just eight races to go.

But then the season started to fall apart for Ferrari.

Career Raikkonen and Verstappen crashed into Vettel at the start in Singapore, before reliability came into play.

A faulty spark plug on the grid at Suzuka was not repaired properly and saw the German out of the race, and a grid penalty in Malaysia further hampered his chances as Mercedes soared.

To lead the championship to see Hamilton wrap up the title with two races to spare should have been a wake-up call for Ferrari, but things would go wrong again the following season.

Vettel must take his fair share of responsibility for the way things went in 2018, having once again topped the standings as the season reached the halfway point.

Crashing in wet conditions in Germany was followed by spins after contact with Hamilton and Verstappen in Italy and Japan, meaning Hamilton could possibly gallop to another title.

So, long story short, when it counts in the 15 years since Raikkonen’s drivers’ title, something has happened that has derailed Ferrari.

The 2022 season

But rather than fixing earlier driver or team failures, it seems the same lack of composure or reliability in key situations has continued this year.

Leclerc’s overt anger on team radio after dropping from lead to fourth following Ferrari’s strategic call was the first public sign of tension between him and the team.

Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz actually deciding his own strategy on the team could have been a sign of trust in his beliefs – or a possible lack of trust in his strategists.

But Leclerc’s retirement from the lead in Spain coupled with a double DNF in Baku due to hydraulic and power unit failures – and two other Ferrari-powered retirements – is a sure sign things need to improve at all levels for Ferrari if they want to get back on track in this title fight.

There are positives here, however. They have a driver pairing that is more than capable of matching the Red Bull partnership, the car is extremely strong when running properly and there is still plenty of racing to do.

But 80 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship and a significant gap to Verstappen at the top – in a Red Bull team with more recent experience in title-fighting situations – there has to be a change in mentality. and better execution within the Scuderia if they are to follow.

Read more: A matured Max Verstappen has the world at his feet and he alone decides what happens next