Formula 1: did Ferrari gamble too much on the engine?

Just 21 of 51 laps have been completed at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, so the Ferrari crew can already pack up: After a hydraulic defect at Carlos Sainz and a major engine failure at the leader Charles Leclerc, the Scuderia in Baku suffered its first double failure since the Italian GP in Monza 2020.
After his mega start to the season, Leclerc loses further ground in the fight for the world championship. Particularly bitter, as the Monegasse shows what it is currently capable of on Saturdays: four times in a row, it put the Ferrari on pole. The problem: For the first time since BMW Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya in 2002, there hasn’t been a single win in such a series!

After Poles 2022 it is 6: 2 for Leclerc against Max Verstappen. After race wins, however, Ferrari’s statistics against Red Bull are exactly the opposite (2x Leclerc versus 5x Verstappen and 1x Perez). The latest trend is also worrying: after Leclerc’s engine failure in Barcelona and the pit stop chaos in Monaco, Baku is Ferrari’s third breakdown race in a row. While their pilot is in World Cup form, the Scuderia isn’t.

There is harsh criticism from the experts: “Even after the last problems, they have already assured that it will not happen again. But here they could not deliver again,” judges ex-world champion Damon Hill, looking at the red misery. “Today it was almost a mass extinction with four Ferrari cars out. Really a very bad day for them.”

Charles Leclerc had to park his Ferrari in Baku with an engine failure.

While the failure of Kevin Magnussen in Haas’ customer car is due to a problem with the Ferrari drive, Scuderia team boss Mattia Binotto can at least give the all-clear in one case on the evening after the race: Guanyu Zhou’s Alfa Romeo, which was also rolled out, has according to the Italians paralyzed by a “internal” defect.

This changes little in the overall picture of the increasing difficulties with Ferrari’s engine. “Of course, when you have so many reliability problems, that’s a concern, no doubt about it at all,” admits team boss Binotto on Sunday, gnashing his teeth.

However, the man with the Harry Potter glasses does not believe in panic: “We cannot give clear answers to the problems with just telemetry data. The components are now being sent back to Maranello and disassembled in order to analyze and understand everything.”

Despite the growing pressure, Binotto stands in front of his team: “I don’t want to blame our technicians. They did a fantastic job with the drive in terms of performance when you look back where we came from,” praises the 52-year-old. “Last year we made huge leaps in performance with the hybrid system and this winter with the engine.”

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto

But that’s flying around Ferrari’s ears now: “Therefore there is still very little experience with it. In terms of durability, it looks like we’re paying a bit the price for it now,” explains Binotto. He sees his technicians facing tricky questions, mainly because of the tight racing calendar – the Canadian GP is already on next weekend: “We have to be clear about how we’re going to deal with it in the short term: Should we shorten the running times of the parts or adjust the application parameters ?”

What is curious is that in Baku, Binotto, himself a trained engine engineer, was actually given the answer on a silver platter: Because the Scuderia tried to shake the heads of some observers again at the weekend with Leclerc’s maladem Spain engine, only changed the one there turbocharger identified as the reason for failure – and paid an expensive bill for it on Sunday.

Nevertheless, the Scuderia boss does not want to be disturbed by the new setback: “Just as we were not euphoric at the beginning of the season, we will not fall into despair now either. The team will remain focused and work hard to solve the problems tackle and make ourselves stronger for the future,” announces Binotto, adding almost defiantly: “We’ll only look at the World Cup status at the end of the season anyway.”

It is quite possible, however, that the Ferrari team boss will then be surprised by Max Verstappen’s title defense.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button