30 August 2022
This past weekend’s Formula 1 Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps was pretty much a procession. There was a bit of drama at the start with Lewis Hamilton squeezing Alonso a touch too much causing his Mercedes’ rear-end to be launched into the air and his ex-Mercedes teammate, Valterri Bottas, beaching himself in the gravel trying to avoid an accident. Once the safety car period had ended, Max Verstappen proceeded to scyth his way through the field and taking a win that, despite starting from the rear of the grid, even the pundits gave short odds on
Now, Grand Prixs like this aren’t new and any misty-eyed Formula 1 fan who tries to tell you that it wasn’t like this in the good ‘ol days probably has glasses so tinted rose they may think that every car is a Ferrari. The fact is, Formula 1 has always suffered from periods where a car or, in the case of the Cosworth DFV an engine, dominates a season. Not all end up being multi-year dominence but generally one or two cars end up being the class of the field and the rest just play catch up. What many are more likely remembering is that, certainly back in the nineties when I started watching, the following season it could all change. This was mostly due to the fact there were not cost caps and teams were able to develop their cars as the season progressed. Anyway, I digress.
What Spa really showed up was just how far gone, it seems, are Ferrari’s strategists. It seems that they just don’t know what they are actually doing. From asking Charles Leclerc what tyre he thinks they should be on to pulling him in towards the end in an effort to get the fastest lap point. Risking two to gain one and end up losing them anyway because not only did he not get the fastest lap, but encountered a pit-lane infringement which garnered him a five-second penalty. Anyone looking at the data knew the Ferrari had no hope in overturning Max’s fastest lap, he was on another level at Spa. Moreover, the only time a team should be asking a driver’s advice on tyre strategy is when the circuit is going from wet to dry of vice-versa as they are the only ones who know what the grip is like.
The biggest shame is that, this season, Ferrari have become a meme. The sports oldest and most prestigeous team are, to all and sundry, a joke. I would dread to think what Enzo Ferrari, were he still around, would be saying or doing if his beloved team were acting this way in his presence. I get the feeling he did not suffer fools gladly and would not be happy with his good name becoming a laughing stock of the sport. If there aren’t personnel changes during the season you can be guaranteed that some will happen come season’s end whether performances improve or not. They had, at least at the start, a chance of competing for the title this season; both drivers and constructors. Whilst mechanical failures do happen, they’ve cost themselves more points through strategy errors than anything else and in a sport of fine margins, that’s untenable.