The most enduring story of the 2023 Formula One season is what might have been for Ferrari. The Italian team have suffered greatly reliability problems than their chief rivals Red Bull, together with driver errors and most visibly poor team decisions on strategy.
One of the most embarrassing of these was in Monaco where the Ferrari duo qualified on the front row with LeClerc in pole position. Of course it is very difficult to overtake in the Principality and Ferrari were all set to win the race.
Yet changeable conditions saw the team made poor strategy calls. As Red Bull read the conditions well, Ferrari froze leaving LeClerc out on old full wet tyres getting swallowed up by the Red Bulls.
Ferrari Monaco distaster
The team called Carlos Sainz for intermediate tyres but he refused staying out until he could go straight to firing the full dry tyre.
LeCLerc followed the team instructions and following the round of pit stops where he had to stop again for dry tyres, LeClerc had fallen behind both Red Bulls.
Sainz by refusing to follow team strategy mad ehimself a P2 and podium presentation.
Ferrari overule LeClerc
There are other examples of this kind of poor decision making and more recently it feels as though Ferrari strategy has lost its confidence and is asking the drivers for their opinion.
During a wet-dry qualifying in Singapore, the team were repeated discussing the emerging track with LeClerc who called for dry tyres for the last run in Q2.
The team over ruled him sending him out again on a fresh set of intermediate tyres.
Ferrari strategy error
Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll tried the dry tyre Q2 run and despite failing to make Q3 their pace would’ve suggested LeClerc could have easily made this work.
The advantage LeClerc would have had if he’d been given the dry weather tyres as requested is he would have been the only driver in the top teams with experience of this before Q3.
As Q3 began, Ferrari had again fitted the wet intermediate tyres to LeClercs car. He watched his team mate and all the other cars pull out on dry weather tyres then called for the team to change his to follow suit.
Ferrari would’ve lost out again
It’s strange Ferrari would fit dry tyres to LeClerc’s car for Q3 after he called for dry tyres in Q2 whilst at the same time fitting the dry tyres to Charles team mate Carlos Sainz.
As it turned out Max Verstappen had to abandon his last qualifying lap where with 2 corners to go he was over a second up on Charles LeClerc. Red Bull had failed to put enough fuel in Verstappen’s car and so he couldn’t complete his final qualifying lap.
Ferrari would have lost pole position, yet had LeClerc had the experience of a few laps in Q2 on the dry tyre his final time would surely have been more competitive.
Ferrari ‘get out of jail’
This was a “get out of jail free car” for Ferrari who will be up against it on strategy during today’s race under the lights in Singapore.
LeClerc’s 9th pole position in a season was last replicated by Michael Schumacher in 2002.
With the 3 DRS zones and high tyre degradation together with the fact the 2022 cars can overtake more easily, this race could easily be a 3 stopper for the winner.
The pressure on Ferrari to make 6 correct tyre strategy and pit stop calls will be immense and the odds have to be on a mistake at some point. It’s just a matter of who will lose out – LeClerc or Sainz.
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"He just locks the inside front here" 🔎
Lewis Hamilton was part of the, 'what could have been' club today 👇 pic.twitter.com/dXoeKyJpIl
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 1, 2022