From the start of the winter testing, everything seemed to be perfect for Ferrari. It quickly turned out that the work done over the last season had paid off and the 2022 car was full of promise.
The start of the season confirmed that those promises were true, and Team Scuderia took advantage of Red Bull’s reliability problems to give themselves a good lead in the standings after just three races.
Then Ferrari arrived at its home ground in Imola. That’s when I got her first warning.
Let’s start with Charles Leclerc. I’ve confirmed already this season that I’ve been eager to see if he’ll be able to undo the little driving mistakes he makes from time to time. At Imola he made an excellent example of what I had in mind.
Sometimes it feels like he wants to do too much. Like in Monaco last year, when he hit the wall in qualifying when he already had the temporary lead, damaging the car and not being able to start the next day.
Kind of liked in Baku in 2019, when he was my favorite of the lead, but he snapped and hit the wall when he only needed to make it to the top ten in the second quarter to move on to the next round, resulting in his famous radio communicating “I’m stupid!” to his team.
At the last Grand Prix, Ferrari and Leclerc decided to play hard and stopped for a second time and tried to put some pressure on Sergio Perez. It wasn’t a bad decision in and of itself. In theory, Ferrari had nothing to lose. Leclerc didn’t want to overtake Perez if nothing had changed, and there wasn’t another stop that wouldn’t cause Leclerc to lose any position, so why not try rolling the dice and see what happens.
Practically speaking, Leclerc encouraged us to push as hard as possible for second place, the result we know today.
In hindsight, it is easy to wonder if it was wise to settle for third and admit that the Red Bulls were the fastest over the weekend. In a title race that promises to be tight, every point counts, and sometimes it’s wiser to take the points we have instead of double-playing or taking off…especially, of course, when we’re up front in the championship.
However, this grand prix is not a disaster for Ferrari. The team is still first in the standings, as is Leclerc who is still 27 points ahead of Verstappen. We can take a tougher weekend, and if we learn the right lessons, it could be good for Ferrari. We’ve seen the kind of dilemma we’ll have to face with the Reds this season. Play everything for everything, or collect the points available to us?
If it is seen as a warning that the season is long and nothing is won despite an excellent start to the campaign, the Scuderia will only be stronger for them.
As for Leclerc, he will also learn from his mistakes. It is a normal apprenticeship for a young driver and he must be given time to gain experience. Although he is already in his fourth season with Ferrari, this is the first time he can truly fight for the title, with all that that entails.
In fact, his opponent this season is a perfect example that while he has huge potential, experience is impossible to buy. Since joining Red Bull in 2016, Verstappen has made costly driving mistakes. Its aggressive riding style has been the subject of much criticism over the years. However, with time and experience, he realized that the title race was a long marathon, and became the fearsome driver and above all, the enduring driver we know today.
It would be the same for Leclerc. His start to the season is great, so he can afford such a mistake. The talent is unquestionable. He just has to make sure he doesn’t open the door too much for Verstappen. But one thing is for sure, the season promises to be very exciting among the drivers.
Less room to maneuver for Sainz
If Leclerc can tolerate a small mistake and still maintain a good lead at the top of the championship, let’s just say Carlos Sainz doesn’t have the same luxury.
After two podium finishes to start the season, the Spaniard failed to complete three laps in two events, finishing on a gravel pit in round two in Australia and first in Imola.
It must be said that he is not to blame for the crash that occurred on the first lap of the last Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo took the blame after the race. However, Sainz’s case shows how small mistakes here and there can quickly change the look of a season.
In Australia, he did a lot to try to advance on the field after finishing ninth in the playoffs. At Imola, his exit from the track in qualifying put him in a difficult position, but the sprint sprint allowed him to erase much of that mistake.
After two tough weekends, Sainz now finds himself 48 points behind his teammate. Since we are in the longest season in Formula 1 history, he still has time to get back into the championship, but in his case the room to maneuver is increasingly slim.
So it will be interesting to see how Sainz, Leclerc and Ferrari will bounce back this weekend on the all-new Miami design. There is a lot of excitement as this Florida Grand Prix approaches, and for us in Quebec it also means a more indulgent schedule for those who like to wake up later like me! The qualification session will be presented at 4pm on Saturday, while the race will start at 3:30pm on Sunday.
“Hipster-friendly tv trailblazer. Problem solver. Infuriatingly humble introvert. Reader. Student. Subtly charming bacon maven.”