2022 should be Scuderia Ferrari’s year. Alas, we are more than halfway through the campaign now, with nine races left to go, and Formula 1's oldest team continues to find new, unexpected ways to throw races. The latest was a head-scratching tire strategy during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc qualified for that round second and third, respectively; they finished it fourth and sixth.
The monthlong summer break, thankfully, presents an opportunity to reset — a chance for drivers to forgive themselves for mistakes. Strategists can reflect on bad calls and engineers can try to stamp out ongoing reliability gremlins with clearer heads.
As usual when leading teams fall on frustrating times, it also presents an opportunity to sack the guy at the top. Ferrari isn’t doing that to team principal Mattia Binotto yet — no matter how many fans seem to be calling for it — and Binotto asserted to F1.com that now is not the time for any sweeping philosophical or personnel changes.
“There’s nothing to change, I think it’s always a matter of confidence, learning, building, building experience, building skills,” he said after the Hungarian Grand Prix when asked what might need to happen for the team to capitalise on their often-superior race pace.
“But if I look again at the balance of the first half of the season there is no reason why we should change. I think we simply need to understand [Hungary] and address that and try to be competitive, as we have been in 12 races so far. There is no reason why we will not be [competitive] at the next.”
“We are winning and losing all together, [Hungary] has not been a great one, the last race was not a great one, but I think there has been a lot of potential. I think we need to focus first on the reason [for the lack of speed in Hungary], address it and come back even stronger.”
In Binotto’s view, the team’s downfall in Hungary was more a result of the F1-75 outright lacking pace than poor tire choice and unnecessary stops. The weather around the Hungaroring was cooler than usual, making the hard compound that Sainz and Leclerc ended the race on a poor fit, and the team had live evidence of that in how the tire was underperforming on rivals’ cars. A combination of factors were clearly at play, whether Binotto is willing to admit that or not.
That said, Ferrari is more than Mattia Binotto, and the team’s penchant for unforced errors goes back long before his arrival in 2019, when he replaced Maurizio Arrivabene. Binotto is certainly right about one thing: Ferrari does have a lot of potential, as the team with the fastest car on balance week in and week out. Unfortunately, speed has never been the only thing standing between Maranello and championships.