It was actually six days back in the day where Mattia Binotto, team principal Ferrari, came out with a bold and forward looking statement. The bespectacled Italian iterated in no uncertain terms that the team must put the disappointment of France behind them and emerge with a 1-2 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, which just ended with both drivers missing out on podium places.
At France, lest it is forgotten, Ferrari didn’t win the contest; rather Leclerc ended with a DNF, though for no fault of his team’s and Sainz recovered to a well fought fifth having started from the rear end of the pack.
So what really happened at the Mogyorod and how did this turnaround, well, not the nicest one, occur?
Weren’t Ferrari supposed to win the 2022 Hungarian GP or if not, then at least, finish the race where both drivers began it: P2 and P3, to be precise?
On Saturday, while George Russell clocked a blisteringly fast 1:17:377 at the end of Q3 despite not having set the time charts racing in any sector of the track, Ferrari didn’t sandbag. Would you call Sainz’s P2 and Leclerc’s P3 a pathetic performance?
What’s really happening to Ferrari is perhaps something none expect or would’ve ever predicted.
They are the team that had a great chance to win Monaco and were actually doing so, before an erroneous call of boxing Leclerc, when that should never have been the case, pouched a great chance of winning.
Just when it seemed that finally, post Austria’s rip-roaring success, their most latest race win, they were winning again, Hungaroring unfurled a spectacular sight.
A sight that Mercedes relished, so did Red Bull but perhaps crushed the hearts of the Tifosi. So how’s that?
On lap 40 of the 70-lap contest, Mattia Binotto’s team called Leclerc in for tyre change. He was leading the race at the moment. But it’s what happened in the pits that turned the contest upside down and as it turned out, for the worst.
Ferrari, for no apparent or fully justifiable reason, went for another gamble. Well, gamble from their perspective but a definite shoddy job for Leclerc and the Tifosi!
They put Leclerc on the harder compounds when most of the grid was racing on either softs or the mediums.
The idea there may have been to go until the end. But was this the tyre that could’ve helped Leclerc with grip, something a track like Hungaroring demands?
Not really, as it turned out and not too long after the Monegasque ambled out of a miserably slow 4.6 second stop!
He’d soon be pursued and eventually passed by Verstappen, only for Max to spin on lap 42.
There came another chance for Charles to get back to third, a place he’d conceded only for the imperiously quick Dutchman to breeze past of the Ferrari.
Not a pretty sight. A week before, Leclerc, who was defending so very well from Max at Le Castellet and had even opened up a wide lead, spun out and resided in the barriers.
This wasn’t what should’ve happened. This was something that could have been avoided, should have been avoided- but wasn’t.
Eventually, Leclerc was pursued and passed by Russell and Perez; he was never closing in on Sir Lewis anyway.
On the other hand, Sainz, who had been fast all weekend and had begun ahead of Leclerc, slipped to fourth, having been around the top five for the large part of the race.
Ferrari did attempt the undercut with the Spaniard (who has more podiums this year than Leclerc), but that too waned out as a missed chance.
Another slow stop didn’t help his cause, which is when Mercedes’ Russell had had a slower stop just minutes before Carlos was brought in.
How do Ferrari even justify their current situation, rather woes, is something that no guide book or self-help read on any bookshelf anywhere in the world can answer.
Surely, they can write a book, should it help, on how to masterfully throw away chances at winning. Monaco then, Hungary now. And that’s not to forget the persistent engine reliability issues that have plagued not just their own chances but those of their customer teams, most noticeably- Alfa Romeo!