Ferrari, I Don't Think You Can Speed out of Bad Strategy

Unfortunately for Mattia Binotto and the Ferrari crew, strategy is just as important as outright speed in racing.

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Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari F1-75 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 19, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Photo: Rudy Carezzevoli (Getty Images)

Despite looking good at the start of the year, Ferrari had a pretty dismal Formula 1 season this year, for countless reasons — strategy being one of them. Thankfully, team principal Mattia Binotto seems to have acknowledged this fact to media... but he’s convinced that a fast and reliable car can solve Ferrari’s strategy issues.

The report comes from Diario AS, a Spanish sports paper. In translation, his quote reads:

“Our ups and downs come from different areas. Reliability first, the first priority, because to win you have to be reliable, and that hasn’t been the case this season. Then the speed of the car. We have been very competitive in qualifying but our race pace was not enough to win. If you have a fast and reliable car, you can make mistakes in strategies and ‘pit-stop’ but then you compensate with the car. That is where we must put our efforts knowing the ups and downs that strategies can cause.”

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Unfortunately, Ferrari already kind of disproved Binotto’s sentiment. There were reliability concerns with the speedy 2022 Ferrari machine, yes. Resolving those issues would have helped the team and its drivers chase for a Championship, yes. But there were countless strategy errors that absolutely destroyed an otherwise good race.

Ferrari’s inability to manage tire degradation all season long was part mechanical trouble and part strategy concern. An issue like tire deg needs to be tackled from multiple angles, but the strategy angle is one of them: You simply have to be aware of how your car may differ from, say, Pirelli’s general simulations. You then have to organize a race around tire deg, and, y’know, manage a successful pit stop without fumbling it, as Ferrari did many times this year.

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In fact, had Ferrari managed its strategy better with the car it had in 2022, we might have had a spicier Championship battle. It was by no means a perfect machine, but its reliability concerns paled in comparison to things like driver or strategy error. How many more points would Ferrari have gained in 2022 if it hadn’t, say, failed to prep for a pit stop or had a better grasp on what tire compounds to change to and when. Making the car faster and more reliable for 2023 won’t magically make all those problems disappear.