The Ferrari Fumble – Where Did it All Go Wrong in Hungary?

The list of problems continue to grow for Ferrari this season as they trail Red Bull by 80 points reports Joe Bell.

It’s been a season to forget for Ferrari so far. (Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The halfway point of the F1 calendar has raced around and the sport finds itself in a very interesting position. With Verstappen going 80 points clear at the top of the Drivers’ Championship and looking set to seal a second world title and Mercedes clawing back some vital points and podium positions, Scuderia Ferrari continue to disappoint their fans and fall short of expectations almost every race weekend. Coming off the back of a shocking race performance in Hungary, the F1 outfit have dropped even more points and practically fumbled the championship. But how can such a promising season start end up being yet another disappointment for the Prancing Horses? Let’s take a look at where it’s all went wrong for Binotto and his drivers.

The Hungarian Grand Prix. A notoriously exciting track and one of the most underrated races on the F1 calendar in my opinion. Often labelled as Monaco without the walls, the Hungaroring has provided us with some absolute classics in years gone by. But the 2022 edition will be one that Ferrari want to forget as quickly as possible.

Starting the race in P2 and P3, Ferrari looked set to dominate the entire event. With George Russell on pole position in a Mercedes car that has on average been one second slower than the F1-75, and championship rival Max Verstappen sitting in 10th on the starting grid after an unfortunate Q3, it had a Ferrari 1-2 written all over it. Yet questionable strategies coming from the pit wall left the two Ferrari’s in 4th and 6th after 70 laps and once again wondering what could have been. It’s no secret F1 fans are becoming numb to Ferrari excuses for their mistakes on track, but on this occasion the mistake came from within the garage as a poor tyre choice left Leclerc frantically searching for pace on a set of hard tyres that had a tough time warming up on the cold track.

The hard tyre compound, which typically takes roughly 10 laps to warm up and find pace is often used in a 2-stop strategy when the track temperature is especially high. But there are some occasions where the longer lasting tyres don’t tend to work especially well, and this Grand Prix can be used as a good example. Alpine were unfortunately the fall guys this time as their decision to switch from the mediums where they were pushing for a top 5 finish, to the hards left them slowly falling down the grid and into nothingness.

So, when Ferrari pitted almost immediately after Verstappen, fans were already suspicious that they panicked and were forced into the pits, but when they came out on a hard compound tyre, which had already proved to be ineffective on track, fans were left baffled and furious at the truly shocking decision from the championship contenders. Long story short, Binotto stormed off and took his summer break early and Ferrari failed to capitalise on a rare weekend where neither Lewis Hamilton nor Max Verstappen started in the top 6. This isn’t just a one-time mistake though; Ferrari continue to punish themselves and push their championships hopes further down the drain.

As I processed the race result on Sunday night and watched the post-race comments from the drivers, I could see the dismay on the face on Leclerc. He was clearly happy racing on the mediums and could have easily nurtured them for an extra few laps and then gone onto softs to see out the race. I’m confident this would have given him a podium if not the win.

Even other racers were shocked to find out about Ferrari’s decision. In an almost nostalgic encounter following the race result as both Lewis and Max were waiting to go onto the podium, they exchanged a surprised look when they learned of Ferraris blunder.

Putting the result behind us, it was crucial for Mattia Binotto to admit his mistakes and go back to the drawing board. Whether that means bringing in a new strategy team or just an overall rethink of how they are handling their cars on track. But the fact that he defended the teams tyre decisions and instead blamed the performance of the car just shows Ferrari’s attitude to each race weekend. They aren’t driver orientated. They are of the impression that they are bigger than anyone who races for them and that they don’t make mistakes. This simply isn’t the case and frankly is embarrassing. If we look at Mercedes and their attitude towards Lewis Hamilton, they almost worship the ground he walks. I can’t count the number of times this year that Toto has been on that radio apologising to Lewis that the car isn’t quick enough or good enough to keep up with the top teams. Yet Ferrari continue to blame the car, not their garage and I believe that the first step to fixing this mess is admitting defeat and looking closer to home rather than what’s happening out on track.

Alongside my strong arguments against the team, there is also an essence of inconsistency from Charles Leclerc. If we look at the French GP where Leclerc crashed out from P1 and handed Verstappen another win, we can’t help but question his ability to handle the car and whether he can become a world champion with such unpredictable results. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Charles and hope to see him lifting that championship one day. But you have to wonder how long Ferrari will put up with poor results before they turn their back on the Monaco born driver, like they have with so many before him.

The problems at the Ferrari garage go so much deeper than what I have described here. Realistically, the surface has only been scratched here but there is still half a season to go so the proof will be in the pudding whether Ferrari can turn it around and start to consistently perform week in week out.

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