Fatal strategy blunders are “part of Ferrari’s history”, according to a motorsport reporter who doubts the Italian team’s chances of success this season.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz started the season strongly, finishing first and second in Bahrain while driving what clearly looked to be the fastest car on the grid. Fast-forward by two months, though, and the picture is now far less pretty for Mattia Binotto and his colleagues.
Lately, Max Verstappen has been getting the better of Leclerc while Sainz suffered costly back-to-back DNFs which have hampered his chances. As a result, Red Bull have taken a 36-point lead in the constructors’ standings while Verstappen is currently in pole position to successfully defend his drivers’ title.
Ferrari made a huge blunder last time out in Monaco when a panicked strategy call cost Leclerc the race victory and a handful of important points. A miscommunication led to the 24-year-old pitting behind his team-mate, forced to wait behind the pit box and emerging fourth, behind Sainz and the two Red Bulls. Sergio Perez went on to win the race.
While such a basic error being made by highly-trained strategy experts raised some eyebrows, journalist Norbert Haug was less surprised. The former vice president of Mercedes-Benz motorsport believes such mistakes from Ferrari have been a regular occurrence over the years.
“What Ferrari did in Monaco will certainly not go down in motorsport history as a great moment of strategy, but rather as a stroke of genius that was as unnecessary as it was self-manufactured,” Haug told German outlet RND. “From the outside, it seems there is so much pressure internally at Ferrari to make decisions particularly well, when perfectly normal decisions would be a much better choice.
Ferrari certainly tripped themselves up in Monaco, turning a sure win for their title contender Leclerc into a fourth-place finish and giving his rival Max Verstappen a completely unnecessary and, in the worst case scenario, possibly world championship-deciding gift. Unfortunately, it is part of Ferrari’s history that such blunders happen from time to time and thus torpedo otherwise brilliant results. At the next race, the pressure will not be less in this way.”
Ferrari will look to set the record straight over the next two weekends, with the latest F1 double header coming up. First the paddock heads to the Baku street circuit for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, before returning to a bona fide race track a few days later in the form of Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.