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Charles Leclerc and Ferrari: a season to forget?

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

Ferrari SF1000s are suffering this season from a severe lack of performance. Barely capable of competing for the number one spot, let alone the podium itself, the only exception so far was Charles Leclerc’s miraculous second place at the inaugural Grand Prix in Austria. Trailing far behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Racing Point, it even seems as if Maranello’s legendary red cars are lagging behind even McLaren and Renault. It presents a worrying outlook, as the new Formula 1 regulations will not officially come into force until 2022.


“Charles is brave, precise, intelligent. He has everything it takes to be a great champion. He has a very strong character. He’s very brave. But the problem is his car. It’s very slow. He had zero chance of making it. Ferrari has to bet on 2022. The team must give Charles the opportunity to have a competitive car.” Italian businessman Flavio Briatore, former director of the Renault F1 Team, did not fail to point out to Nice Matin the SF1000’s inability to perform this season. Regularly battling for victory last season alongside Mercedes and Red Bull, Ferrari are struggling this year to make it into Q3 in qualifying, and into the Top 10 in racing. Last season, Ferrari won three GP titles, Leclerc emerging victorious at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza and Vettel in Singapore. As if the SF1000’s disappointing performance wasn’t enough, the two Ferrari drivers were victims of a pile-up caused by the Monégasque, who last week turned too sharply on his team-mate on the very first lap of the Styrian Grand Prix (Austria). Yet another setback in an already complicated start to the season for the Italian firm.

2022: the two-year wait for a Ferrari victory?

With only 27 points in three races, Ferrari is fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Already light-years behind Mercedes, they currently stand behind McLaren and Racing Point, who have shown immense progress since the beginning of the season. The Tifosis will have to accept the current situation, as the new F1 regulations, which were due to come into force in 2021, will not finally be implemented until 2022*. It is set to be a hard blow for Ferrari, who will also have to wait to deal with the SF1000 until next season, as technical improvements are currently limited. To get off to a better start, patience is, clearly, key — perhaps a harsh reality that Ferrari president John Elkann is beginning to accept. “This year we are not truly in the competition because of design errors on the car. We have a series of structural weaknesses that have existed for some time in terms of both aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics. We have also lost engine power,” he explained in an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport. “Today, we are laying the foundations to be competitive and regain victory when the rules change in 2022. I’m convinced of that. Mattia Binotto has the characteristics and skills to start us on a new winning cycle.”

Getting caught out is very painful for us and for the fans

Mattia Binotto, team principal of Scuderia Ferrari in Formula One

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s team principal, has recently been criticised for the lack of results in recent times, It looks like he is going to have to grit his teeth again in what promises to be, despite a shortened season, a (very) long year for Ferrari. “It’s an extremely disappointing Sunday, and the result is hard to swallow,” he admitted at the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix. “In qualifying, we had made the most of the car, but the race wasn’t the case. Getting caught out is very painful for us and for the fans.” With the approach of the British double race meet at Silverstone, starting this Friday with free practice for the first race, Ferrari should once again have a complicated weekend. Despite improvements made to the car, which were not very obvious in Hungary, Mercedes remains untouchable, while Racing Point and McLaren will want to shine on the home turf. To see Ferrari back at the top of the standings, we will have to wait for a scenario similar to that of the season’s first Grand Prix in Austria, which saw Leclerc take second place on the podium after a bounce-back race marked by race incidents. A heartbreak for lovers of the mythical red vehicle and the Monegasque driver too, who was promised a bright future in the divine category of motorsport.

The Ferrari SF1000 is not up to scratch this season.

*The International Federation, F1 organisers and the ten participating teams decided that, despite the 13 races already lined up, the new regulations providing for cheaper, more exciting F1 cars with new aerodynamics, would be postponed for a year in the face of the financial instability created by Covid-19, compounded by scheduling uncertainties.