Despite Mercedes being a shadow of their former selves, it all looked good for a season long battle between Ferrari and Red Bull as the 2022 Formula One season got underway. Charles LeClerc was 40 points clear of Verstappen after the third race of the season in Australia and was buoyantafter his second win of the year stating, “Honestly, what a car today,” said Leclerc. “I did a good job all weekend but it was not possible without the car. And this weekend especially in the race pace we were extremely strong.”
What a difference 5 short months makes
Ferrari has repeatedly been a shambles in terms of its strategy, race track operations and reliability and Verstappen now has one hand on the drivers’ title with a Aled over LeClerc of 109 points.
After the recent hapless performance at their pitstops in Holland, Tim Coronal the professional Dutch racing driver was scathing about Ferrari’s performance
“Do they all speak Italian there?” Coronel mused “I think they all speak a different language.”
“We all know that you need four tyres for a tyre change, right? The rear tyre wasn’t there yet.”
“And then there was the unsafe release later on. We are doing Formula 1 here, not stirring spaghetti pots. Come on!”
Ferrari have published a video in which their their chief strategist, Inaki Rueda, attempts to explain the litany of mistakes made in Zandvoort.
“The first round of pit stops came quite early,” he explained. “People started stopping at around lap 10, 12, 13, 14. This gave us a window of opportunity to pit into.
“With Carlos we were under threat, we had two Mercedes and one Red Bull that could potentially undercut Carlos. An undercut at that point of the race would have meant that Carlos gave the position to them. Carlos’s pit stop came later than usual because we reacted to Perez’s call.”
Firstly the Mercedes team had fitted the more durable medium tyres at the start, which the rest of the top ten were on the soft red tyre. This clearly meant they would run a lot longer than the other teams. So there was no threat from Mercedes at Ferrari’s first stop.
“The pit stop call usually has two factors: one is the call from us to the driver and the other one is our call to our crew. The call to the driver in this case came at the right time, Carlos had no problem coming into the box, he knew he was coming in, he had enough time to make the pit lane.
“The call to the pit crew usually comes around 23 or 24 seconds, but in this case because we were reacting to Perez it came later. We only gave our pit crew 17 seconds to react.”
“Our pit crew need this time to come out into the location and be ready when the driver comes. We have our gunmen, the tyre removers come out and the tyre fitters come crucially through the pit stop area,” Rueda explained.
Yet bizarrely the left rear tyre fitter wasn’t present unlike the rest of Ferrari’s pit stop crew.
Rueda continues, “Because Carlos came in a bit earlier than usual. The front-left tyre fitter managed to squeeze in between the front wing and the front jack, but the rear-left tyre fitter did not manage to get by.”
If this was the case when Sainz came to a stop, the rear left tyre man would have taken a couple of seconds to shimmy around the back of the car and be ready following the removal of the Spaniards old rubber.
Yet is was over 12 seconds before the wheel was in fact fitted. This suggests when the tyre fitter removed the left rear from the blankets at the same time as there other 3, the tyre inside was not the right one.
The Ferrari mechanic then probably had to open another blanket to find the match for the seat being fitted to the Spaniard’s Ferrari.
Inaki then bemoans the fact that Zandvoort pit lane is tight which added to their woes.
“To make matters worse, at Zandvoort we have a very narrow pit lane and this meant that the rear-left tyre fitter had to go around the whole pit crew to make it eventually to his corner. That’s why you saw that all the three other corners had finished before we had a rear-left tyre to be fitted on the car.”
Sainz dropped from 3rd to 11th with a total pitman time of around 32 seconds compared to the 18-19 seconds other cars managed
“We thought it was a strong tyre, and we were gearing up to do a two-stop from then on,” Rueda continued to explain. “We realised that the Mercedes on the medium from the start had considerably more pace than we expected. This meant that now they were in contention for a one-stop and a very competitive one-stop at that.
“Our second stops were done with the Mercedes doing a one-stop in mind, so we wanted to try and come back at Hamilton and Russell with as much pace delta as possible to overtake, because them doing one stop less meant we would have to overtake them on track.”
Yet the crew released Carlos Sainz into the path of Fernando Alonso which resulted in a 5 second time penalty added at the end of the race. This saw the Spaniard relegated to P8 in the classified results.
As yet the Italian media and the Tifosi have been restrained in calling for Binotto to be sacked. However, if Ferrari bungle their strategy or pit stop operation at the biggest event of their F1 season in Monza this weekend, the bays for blood will surely begin.
The Tifosi celebrating a Ferrari win at Monza is pure passion 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/7oIDLT0Chz
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) September 7, 2022