When Charles LeClerc won his 5th Formula One career race at the half way point of the 2022 season and his first from outside pole position at the Austrian GP, Ferrari’s report card may not have seemed too bad. The Maranello outfit at this point were the most improved team sober the past 12 months. With 140 points more than at the same stage in 2021, this would normally be considered supreme progress in a sport where the pecking order of the competitors is often locked in over years.
Yet behind the improvement headline is a tale of what could have been. Motorsport Magazine have crafted the following table which reveals where Charles LeClerc could have or should have been at the summer season break.
After the strategic debacle that was Monaco where the two Ferrari cars started on the front of the grid but came home in P2 and P4, Matt Binotto appeared to accept some changes in how the team operated were required.
“So we certainly made mistakes in our judgement and we made mistakes in our calls. What is the process which brought us to made mistakes?
“I think the first mistake was underestimating the pace of the intermediates, and the gap we had to the other cars in terms of track position,” he explained.
“The process, I think it’s still something on which we need to look at, and we just had our briefing with drivers, we went through it, we had discussions, we tried to understand but believe me it was quite a complicated one, so it was not an obvious one, but certainly we made a mistake,” Binotto revealed.
The problem is Monaco may have seen the biggest blunder tragically from Ferrari at that point of the season but it wasn’t the biggest so far. Failing to give Charles new tyres under the safety car in Silverstone almost certainly cost him a relatively easy win. Then last time out in Hungary fitting the concrete hard tyres to LeClerc’s car when Ferrari hadn’t tried them all weekend was almost idiotic.
So the processes at Ferrari haven’t been sorted despite another 6 Formula One race weekends having followed Monaco.
Former Ferrari stalwart and wing man for Fernando Alonso – Felipe Massa – believes Mattia Binotto could end up paying with his job if the Red Team don’t step it up after the summer break. Binotto was Ferrari’s engine chief technician when Massa was with the team./
“He’s a very good engineer – a very professional guy,” comments the Brazilian. “He understands a lot about it on the technical side. He’s also a good guy, to be honest.
“But in the end, the result is not coming the way it should. So we cannot definitely blame him, but we need to say that he’s part of it.”
Despite Ferrari’s year on year progress, the team should be leading the world championships. The problem is next year nothing is guaranteed. Red Bull racing had an inferior car and beat Mercedes in 2021. Ferrari have a superior car to the Red Bull, but are throwing away their best chance in 15 years since Kimi raised their standard.
Another former Ferrari driver, Jean Alesi, believes the criticism levelled at Ferrari is premature.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera newspaper, Alesi notes, “We can try to understand the why and how, but now is not the time,”
“Being negative does nothing good – on the contrary, you have to support Ferrari. I want to help the people at Ferrari because they are the ones who are suffering the most from this situation.
Mattia Bimnotto was asked following the debacle in Hungary whether the structure or personnel of the team should be modified to better cope with race strategy.
Firstly, Binotto refused to accept the strategy to fit concrete tyres was bad and blamed the ‘inexplicable’ under performance of the car on the day in colder conditions. This may all be to protect the team from the red hot Italian press and their criticism, however, when things are not going well – change is required.
Binotto and Ferrari are merely buying their heads in the sand and ‘hoping’ for a better outcome.
Massa is adamant, “He needs to turn and change things in a quick way, otherwise he can pay for it [with his job].”
Yet Binotto again asserted he believes things will come good.
“I am convinced that our team is also strong at a strategic level,” he told Tag24. “We often look at mistakes and not at what we do right.
“We should have won five more races, but somehow it didn’t happen. We could have been 9-3 (versus Red Bull) in terms of wins, because we always had problems when we were in the lead. Red Bull only had bad luck when they were behind us..
“But looking at the balance of the first half of the season, I see no reason why we should change,” says Binotto rejecting changes within the Ferrari team or processes.
“I just think we need to address the question of what went wrong. Understand the problem and work on it.
“There’s no reason why we can’t get it back next time.”
If you keep doing the same things with the same resources, likely the results will be similar.