Despite Charles Leclerc’s hard-won victory at the Austrian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen and Red Bull remain clear favorites for this F1 season. It’s not even about Max’s 38-point lead, but about the fact that his car stopped breaking down in the last races, while something always happens to Leclerc: either the technique will let you down, or the team. It is the various problems of Ferrari that prevent us from seeing an equal fight between the two leaders of the championship. But now we will try to explain why the Scuderia cannot be asked too strictly. In the end, it is almost a miracle that exactly the same problems did not arise in the bulls themselves a year ago.
Burning motors? Everything is (almost) okay
Perhaps the main complaint against Ferrari in 2022 is the regular power plant failures. And we will immediately come out in defense of the Scuderia mechanics: you are demanding the almost impossible from them.
Let’s remember what happened just two seasons ago. In the winter of 2020, the FIA found something strange in the operation of the Italian engine (what exactly – someday we will find out in the memoirs, but there were rumors about an ingenious system that allowed bypassing fuel sensors and supplying gasoline to the internal combustion engine at a higher pressure than allowed by the rules). Ferrari, in exchange for the absence of any fines and claims, agreed to root out the controversial technology from the engine, after which it instantly turned from a carriage into a pumpkin.
In 2020, the Ferrari engine was the weakest in the peloton, with a massive 70bhp power deficit rumored to have it. — just an abyss! At the same time, already in 2022, the minders were waiting for a freeze of engines until the end of the current regulations – that is, Ferrari had only two years to catch up with everyone, plus before the current championship, at the same time, it was necessary to adapt the engines to new gasoline with 10 percent natural component.
And what do we see in 2022? According to the general opinion, it is the Scuderia that has the most powerful power plant – a little better than the Honda and with a more solid lead over the Mercedes and Renault. Ferrari engineers have created a miracle in two years, and in such a situation, complaining that the engine lacks reliability … No, of course, you can, because everyone always wants to win, but let’s treat such growing pains with understanding. The Italians realized that the capacity had to be achieved precisely by the 2022 season, then work on it would be prohibited. But further they will bring reliability, just give it time. By the way, exactly the same approach is professed in Alpin, whose engine has also greatly added to the “horses”, but often breaks down, especially on the Alonso car.
The 2022 season has started fabulously for Ferrari
Photo: Lars Baron/Getty Images
And here’s what’s interesting: the current problems of Ferrari and Alpin were most likely for Red Bull a year ago. Then “Honda”, before leaving the championship, decided on the final breakthrough and laid down the power plant development program, which was originally designed for two, in one season. The fact that in such a situation the updated engine not only became more powerful, but also showed almost standard reliability is a miracle. And rather an exception to the rule. Yes, they can be poked in the face by Ferrari and Renault engineers, but still, the option when a sharp surge in power is accompanied by spectacular failures and even fires is much more traditional for F-1.
Now, if in 2023 Italian and French products fail with the same regularity and ultimately deprive Sainz and Leclerc of a chance for a title, then it will already be possible to think about layoffs in the engine department. In the meantime, minders need to write out a well-deserved bonus and wait until they fix all the problems.
The Ferrari burst into flames and rolled onto the track. Why didn’t they extinguish it by throwing a fire extinguisher?
Is the team wrong? This is also part of the plan.
Ferrari defeats are also associated with errors in the team’s operational activities: wrong tactics, failed decisions in rapidly changing conditions, indecision in the application of team tactics. However, even here we must calm down and ask ourselves: what, in fact, did we expect?
At the head of the “Scuderia” is not too experienced Mattia Binotto. Yes, he has been at Ferrari for a hundred years, he has worked with Schumacher (not Mick), but he became the team leader only in 2019, while not immediately getting rid of the role of technical director. In such a situation, it is not surprising that the level of managerial decisions Mattia is still lower than that of Christian Horner or Toto Wolff.
The same can be said about Binotto’s subordinates: the latest personnel changes at Ferrari took place no later than mid-2020. New direction leaders continue to fill bumps and add at the cost of trial and error. Again, compare with the personnel stability of Red Bull and Mercedes. By the way, is it not by chance that Mercedes took a step back on the chassis and engine exactly at the moment when the former leaders decided to leave their posts?
Split at Ferrari? Leclerc’s team almost rioted after another mistake
If we are talking about experience, then we can remember about the pilots themselves. Charles Leclerc this year for the first time got a chance to compete for the championship title, and Carlos Sainz spends only the second season at the Scuderia. At the same time, the Monegasque and Spaniard Max Verstappen are rivals, who after the title in 2021 looks virtually invulnerable: both experience and composure have been added to his natural talent.
Let’s fix it: in fact, none of the current Ferrari tops has experience in fighting for the championship title. Where can he come from, if in 2017-2018 the Scuderia lost real chances long before the end of the championship, and the last battles “to the last bullet” date back to 2010 and 2012, and even those were lost?
Finally, the advantage of the “Red Bull” and “Mercedes” of the past years can be attributed to the clear distribution of pilots into the first and second numbers. That Hamilton under Bottas, that Verstappen after the departure of Riccardo was an obvious priority for their teams, which made it easier to make the most important decisions: for whom to adjust tactics, whether to give an order from the command bridge, to whom to allocate a scarce novelty. In Ferrari, even despite Leclerc’s noticeable advantage in pace at the start of the season, they did not dare to push Sainz – and this already leads to such problems as at the British Grand Prix. The fire in Austria will unwittingly make life easier for Binotto and the company, but it will still be more difficult for the Reds in this component than for the Bulls.
To sum up: express engine refinement, young managers, inexperienced pilots, lack of titles, internal uncertainty with priorities – are you still surprised that Ferrari has a lot of mistakes and problems? Of course, we will all continue to be surprised to read the statement of Mattia Binotto that the team does not have the task of fighting for the championship, but still, the Ferrari boss has enough reasons for such words.
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