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Ferrari’s latest strategy blunder proves they aren’t ready to win F1 title

The Scuderia threw away the chance to gain serious ground on Max Verstappen and Red Bull in the 2022 F1 title race

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Ferrari once again dropped a fairly sizeable strategy ball at the 2022 British Grand Prix. And once again, Charles Leclerc was the driver on the receiving end. If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.

For the Maranello outfit have designed a brilliant car, one worthy of challenging for a title. Yet after ten races and six pole positions, Leclerc trails Max Verstappen by 43 points in the Driver Standings, with the Scuderia 63 points adrift of Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.

Reliability – or a lack of – has contributed, but so has the now trademark strategy ineptitude. It reared its ugly head again at Silverstone. Rather than the ruthlessness displayed regularly by Christian Horner at Red Bull, the Scuderia approach was one of half-measures that cost them a certain and timely one-two.

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Yes, the arrival of the Safety Car on Lap 39 threw a spanner in the works, but that should have actually worked in their favour given the charge Lewis Hamilton was on.

Cheered on by a rapturous home support and aided by the tyre delta created by a mega first stint, the Brit was almost certain to pass eventual winner Carlos Sainz and could quite plausibly have taken an on-merit victory from Leclerc in the closing stages.

With 13 laps to go, Esteban Ocon’s breakdown put paid to that grandstand finish and paved the way for another. The race was sure to resume and therefore the obvious decision to almost everyone watching was to pit for softs.

A late strategy error cost Leclerc a near-certain win at Silverstone | Credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Having shown blistering speed to take total control of the race, the call to box didn’t come for Leclerc, leaving him a sitting duck on older and harder tyres when racing recommenced.

Sure enough, first quickly became second before the Monegasque fought valiantly to hold off the advances of Sergio Perez and Hamilton. It was, ultimately, in vain. Fourth. Mistakes happen, especially at Ferrari, but what made matters worse was the lack of accountability.

Binotto’s excuses

In the face of the blindingly obvious and in spite of the hard facts – Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok informed Ferrari‘s fearless leader there was a nine-second gap between his drivers as Leclerc approached the pits, meaning there was more than enough time to double-stack the cars.

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Binotto defended the decision not to put Leclerc onto softs, which must leave even the most ardent Ferrari fans scratching their heads in bewilderment.

“What could we have done differently?” Binotto said defiantly in the aftermath. “I think that the decisions we took were the right and proper ones at each single time.

“‘Should we stop Charles at the Safety Car?’ is maybe the only one we may question. I think, if we would have stopped him maybe the others would stay out, and we maybe would have been short on soft tyres.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, Binotto insists the “right” calls were made | Credit @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

“In our view, certainly, they were too close to stop both of them so we had to make a decision. We were the only one there with two cars fighting for good positions. The other teams only had one car so the decision is a lot easier.

“Would we have been able to recover the positions? I’m not sure. I think that obviously on the inside it’s always easy to say that we could have done things differently.

“We had, once again, a Safety Car at the wrong moment when we were comfortably leading the race. Why then by deciding to stop only one did we decide to stop Carlos? Because Charles got track position and was needing to remain the leader of the race.

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“His tyres were fresher compared to the ones of Carlos, he had done six or seven less laps, and Carlos by stopping is still second and would have protected in the first couple of corners when we know that starting on the hard would have been more difficult.

“Then we were hoping for more tyre degradation with the soft to give Charles maybe a difficult three or four laps initially but he could recover later on but the soft didn’t degrade as we were hoping.”

No, it didn’t, and the result could hardly have been worse. With Verstappen limping home to seventh, this was a gilt-edged opportunity to make a serious dent in both championship deficits.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in action during the 2022 British Grand Prix REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

Instead, Ferrari proved to the masses they still aren’t ready to ascend either of F1’s lofty mountains. When that will happen remains anyone’s guess.

The sport is, by its nature, unpredictable, but until the famous marque address the in-house issues that leave them exposed to the ruthlessness and efficiency of their rivals, they will be destined to play second fiddle in the battle for world championship glory.

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