Scuderia Ferrari is the most successful team ever to compete in Formula One. They have had drivers like Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Niki Lauda, Fangio, Gilles Villeneuve, and many others. They have been the epitome of Formula One success but since 2007, the reds have not won a single piece of silverware. This rises from their inability to provide their drivers with competitive cars.
The 2022 season was one such exceptional season when Ferrari had the only car on the grid to challenge the Red Bulls. Mercedes was also stuck with porpoising issues and the rest of the grid struggling with aerodynamics. Ferrari finished second in the Constructor’s standings narrowly edging out Mercedes and their drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both finished in 2nd and 5th place respectively in the WDC standings.
This blunder is basically attributed to just one aspect, strategy, and the season led to the team principal, Mattia Binotto being replaced by Fred Vasseur who came in from Alfa Romeo.
However, the Italian constructor has gotten off to a very shaky start in the first two races. In the Bahrain Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc suffered a DNF after his car’s electric components broke down, resulting in a 10-place grid penalty in the Saudi Arabian GP at Jeddah. On the other hand, Carlos Sainz Jr., finished 4th in the first race and 6th in the second. Ferrari now stands in 4th place with 26 points behind Red Bull, Aston Martin, and Mercedes.
Problems at Ferrari
With the turn of events, we must analyze the issues at the red team and try to figure out what went wrong. Ferrari’s penultimate issue in the 2022 season was reliability, which caused 2 DNFs for both drivers that rendered the team in the later leg of the season, incompetent. The engineer’s primary objective for the F1 SF-23 was to make it reliable as well as fast to compete with the league leaders, Red Bull. They have already failed at this as seen in the Bahrain GP with the Monegasque’s retirement.
Charles Leclerc is out of the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix after a power failure for Ferrari 🏎️❌pic.twitter.com/SUuFYNdJDu
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 5, 2023
Ferrari’s strategy was their second greatest problem in 2022, as a succession of errors cost Leclerc points. Before retiring in Bahrain, Leclerc was in third position but was no match for the Red Bulls ahead of him, while Sainz was passed by Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who eventually claimed the final podium spot.
After the season’s first race, both Ferrari and its competitors made numerous justifications. Many observers speculated that the Bahrain track was unsuitable for the vehicle and that it would be far more competitive in Saudi Arabia.
Lots of work to do. We are far away from where we want to be. Next stop is Melbourne 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/wlk3YGfXdv
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) March 20, 2023
However, the outcome two weeks later in Saudi Arabia was catastrophic. The Ferrari duo finished behind both Mercedes vehicles as well as Alonso, who came third behind the Red Bulls. The timing of the Safety Car in Jeddah was unfortunate for Ferrari, but it was obvious that they are presently fighting for second place with Aston Martin and Mercedes rather than challenging the defending manufacturers’ champions.
Ferrari’s solution going forward
One hypothesis was that Ferrari was still operating their engines at less than maximum power after the first race panic, but the team maintained that this was not the case. While it was obvious that Ferrari suffered especially on the hard tire compound in Jeddah, Sainz suggested that their main problem is struggling to keep up with other cars. “We’re not where we want to be right now in terms of race pace, tires, balance, dirty air when following, we just struggle a little,” said the Spaniard after the race.
🇸🇦 It was a tough Sunday, since we were expecting better race pace. We have work to do and we know the car is not where we want it to be at the moment. However, we will keep pushing and I fully trust we can improve the situation.
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) March 19, 2023
Charles Leclerc also stated about the team that “A Lot, Really a Lot” of work is essential to bring the team back on track. Many fans even suspect that Mattia Binotto was not the issue and that the administration at Ferrari, as a whole is flawed.
The first few weeks of the 2023 season have raised questions about whether Ferrari is on the correct track. Despite the fact that Mattia Binotto’s reign resulted in the production of a very fast car that was a match, at least in terms of pure pace, for Red Bull for the first half of last season, a combination of poor reliability and strategic errors saw Leclerc lose touch with Max Verstappen, who eventually eased to his second consecutive title.
Aston Martin and Mercedes draw level in the team standings after our points re-shuffle 👀#SaudiArabianGP pic.twitter.com/BoAmBrH4aX
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 19, 2023
Ferrari looks off the pace so far this season, allegedly suffering to compete with Mercedes and Aston Martin even. It is too early to say though if the Tifosi will receive what they want out of the team. The expectation was that Vasseur, a genial yet highly regarded figure, would be able to impose the level of discipline needed to make a prolonged challenge, and the Frenchman made it clear over the winter that he would be terminating the team’s 15-year drivers’ tenure.