Ferrari F1 Baku race strategy ‘fatally flawed’

The Ferrari Formula One team is developing a reputation for flawed F1 race strategies. Either Charles LeClerc or Carlos Sainz should’ve won the 2022 Monaco GP but for bad decisions over pit stop and tyre changes. At the previous race in Spain, Christian Horner believed his winning driver was ‘lucky’ to take the victory because Ferrari failed to utilise a potential winning advantage of a pitstop under the safety car.

Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc now has 6 poles from the first 8 races of the 2022 season. Vertsappen and Perez of Red Bull have one each.

Yet when it comes to race wins, Ferrari have failed to take advantage of their pole positions. Max Verstappen has 4 wins and Charles LeClerc and Sergio Perez have one each.

So why are Ferrari so dominant on Saturday and failing to convert these pole position race starts into race wins? 

Besides the mistakes the team persistently make during the race, there is a fundamental problem with the 2022 Ferrari car. Simply put, it wears the tyres out more quickly than the RB18.

Over 1 lap, the Ferrari car is clearly much quicker than the Red Bull despite the red cars generally running with more wing – therefore more drag – than the Red Bulls. 

The reason Ferrari set up their cars with more wing is to protect the tyres from incremental wear. The increased rear wing downforce creates less ‘sliding’ through the corners during the race and improves the number of laps the Ferrari can do before requiring new rubber.



The Red Bull cars from 2009-2012 used a similar qualifying strategy. The team set these cars up with more downforce to be quicker through the corners claiming regular poles and during the race we’d see Vettel take advantage of his start position and ‘run and hide’ in the early parts of each race.

Yet those winning Red Bull car designs were also kind on the tyres and during the first race stint, Vettel could build a lead and maintain it up to the first round of pit stops. 

The 2022 Ferrari when on pole often creates a similar kind of race lead over the first 10 laps but then the higher tyre wear sees the Red Bull cars close the gap before the first pit stop.

This is when the Ferrari conundrum kicks in.

If Ferrari leave they’re lead driver out too long on wearing tyres, the chasing Red Bulls are now as quick through the slower sections of the circuit and much quicker down the front straight due to their lower down force rear wing configuration.



So do Ferrari risk losing track position by being passed, or pit for fresh rubber?

Clearly being overtaken whilst on the first race stint is a huge disadvantage because both teams are then on the same pit stop strategy but Red Bull now have track position.

So the obvious strategic tactic for Ferrari is to stop first before they are passed by either of the Red Bull drivers.

Ferrari’s race then starts to unravel because the Red Bull cars run longer on their starting tyres and more than often perform ‘the undercut’. Simply put it means they are faster during these transition laps than the Ferrari on new rubber and either Vertsappen or Perez then build enough of a time advantage to pit some laps later and retain the lead.

These events are becoming all too predictable and the feeling is the Maranello strategists just accept the inevitable hoping for a safety car or some event that will mix things up and create for them a new advantage.

However, being a hostage to this kind of ‘groundhog’ day sequence of events appears pretty defeatist.

Charles LeClerc’s pole positions are great for the history books, but the prizes and points are handed out on Sunday.



So what could Ferrari do differently?

Firstly, they are clearly attempting to bring upgrades to their car which allow them to run a lower downforce/drag rear wing and also reduce tyre wear. But this solution may take all season to deliver.

Alternatively Ferrari should just accept their tyre wear disadvantage but set their car up to run more quickly during the race and prevent the Red Bull cars’ straight line speed advantage.

Yes, this will mean Ferrari will require more pit stops than Red Bull, but at present they are rolling the dice anyway on Safety Car events to make their current strategy work.

A Ferrari with a ‘skinnier’ less ‘draggy’ rear wing will nullify the Red Bull pit straight top speed advantage. George Russell demonstrated in Spain, a car quick down the straights even where DRS is enabled is more difficult to pass. It took both Verstappen and Perez over 15 laps to pass the slower Mercedes in Spain because of Brackley’s race set up philosophy.

In tomorrow’s race the Maranello strategy may work if there’s a safety car within the first 12-15 laps – and in Baku – this event is more probable than at most other circuits.

Ferrari are locked in due to Parc Ferme rules with their ‘draggy’ wing race car for tomorrow’s race in Baku. However in the upcoming race in Canada Ferrari must deploy a different car set up strategy, particularly if they fail to win in Azerbaijan.

Red Bull are the masters of counter strategy, which famously saw them take the race win at the season finale in Abu Dhabi 2021 via a last lap shootout.

Surely Ferrari have to vary their strategy which is delivering them the title of King of the Poles, but losers on Sunday.

READ MORE: F1 stewards ‘mistake’ over Hamilton Dangerous Driving

One response to “Ferrari F1 Baku race strategy ‘fatally flawed’

  1. This article hasn’t aged well! It doesn’t matter how quickly they wear the tyres out, because the engines don’t last as long as a set of tyres! The titles are already in the Red Bull cabinet, for this year and next, because once Ferrari have taken the inevitable engine penalties, the Red Bull lead increases further. And Ferrari will spend so much money this year fixing the engine, they will hit the costs cap and affect next year. It is also inevitable that they will have to turn the engine down, and then they won’t be in front of Red Bull, or Mercedes next year.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.