To hope to beat Max Verstappen and RedBull, Ferrari must ‘do it really flawlessly’

From our special correspondent for the Paul-Ricard circuit, in Le Castellet,

A little tease in the press room at the Circuit Paul-Ricard in Le Castellet, reflecting Ferrari’s mistakes in this first half of the Formula 1 season. “My tires died after just one lap, no do i understand why “asked Charles Leclerc in the middle of the third practice session of the French Grand Prix, on Saturday at noon. “You understand”, answered his engineer, quickly mocked by an Italian journalist, who imagined the rest of his answer: “We don’t understand why either. »

If anything, that’s the prevailing feeling among many Formula 1 watchers: although at the top, Ferrari often seem to be cruising in plain sight. “Strategic mistakes have penalized them a lot”, he even estimates 20 minutesformer Ferrari driver Jean Alesi between two selfies.

“Moments of hesitation”

But for him, those mistakes are part of “learning from the outposts.” “You have to visit an F1 team to realize the level of technology and research. Ferrari, they have been fighting to get back to the front for several years, suddenly they are at the front. Now their main goal is no longer the car, but restructuring .They have a pretty young team, no star.They don’t have Adrian Neweys [directeur technique de RedBull]. Everyone is unknown, but they have a toy that wins, so they have moments of hesitation”, says Jean Alesi, who knows the team very well.

Moments of hesitation like at Silverstone, when they didn’t bring Charles Leclerc into the pits, despite being in the lead, just after a safety car. A non-decision that cost the Monegasque victory, ultimately 4th, eight seconds behind his teammate Carlos Sainz, winner of his first Grand Prix and relaunched in the race for the world championship, to the detriment of Charles Leclerc.

“Reliability will also play a role”

A week later, it wasn’t strategy but reliability that gave Scuderia Ferrari F1 boss Mattia Binotto a few extra curls. When everything seemed lined up for Ferrari’s first double since the opening Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain, Carlos Sainz’s engine literally exploded when he caught Max Verstappen. That explosion still has consequences a week later, as the Spaniard will start Sunday from the back of the grid for this French Grand Prix for using a fourth engine, when only three are authorized for the entire season.

“Of course, reliability will also play a role. Which breaks will continue to break now or not? This is the question that everyone asks”, recalls Jean Alesi. If Ferrari has apparently identified the source of the problem, it is still not resolved. This French Grand Prix, and that of Hungary next weekend and its very high temperatures, will once again put the Ferrari engine to the test.


But this misfortune, Carlos Sainz’s 20 penalty places, at least made it possible to see Scuderia Ferrari finally working as a team. The Spaniard, who played nothing in qualifying, provided two laps of suction to Charles Leclerc to protect him from the RedBulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. “I have struggled to find the right ball setup and style since the start of the weekend. But I had the help of Carlos, it was great teamwork that allowed me to do a great lap. It was great to have this help,” rejoiced Charles Leclerc.

Which somewhat quelled the rumors of a bad deal between the two drivers. “They have done a very good job as a team. That’s the team, it’s not easy for everyone to see what’s going on behind our team’s door, but we’re united. They put themselves at the service of the team, and it is important for the championship”, recalled Laurent Mekies, sporting director of the Scuderia Ferrari, on the Canal+ microphone.

“RedBull is the panzer division”

Because it will undoubtedly take everyone driving in the same direction at Ferrari to hope to beat Max Verstappen and RedBull, 38 points ahead of Charles Leclerc in the championship. “Them, the others [RedBull] it’s swiss watch, go ahead. It’s the Panzerdivision, they’re well honed, Max is Max, you really need a Ferrari’s no fault, but they can do it,” said Jean Alesi.

A problem for the rich, ultimately, as these debates about strategy, reliability or agreement within the team wouldn’t exist without pre-season work and a car that finally performed unlike previous seasons. “They didn’t lose the car, it was still an unknown. Everyone worked hard, not knowing the final result. We saw cars with very different shapes, and Ferrari didn’t miss theirs”, recalls Jean Alesi. But now, you can’t miss the rest.

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