The comeback is possible. Red Bull and Max Verstappen teach us this. The comeback is possible despite starting tenth on a track where overtaking is always challenging. The comeback is possible even if, after passing a Ferrari, you inexplicably spin and resume the track to pass the same Ferrari again. The comeback is possible as long as you believe it. The comeback is possible if the wall works in unison with the pilot – if necessary with “the” pilots – on the track. It is possible if you evaluate your performance lap after lap, even before that of the others. Perhaps keeping in mind the old principle of who fights in bars: no matter how big your opponent is, whoever hits first hits twice.
The points of disadvantage between Verstappen and Leclerc, in the Drivers’ World Championship, have become eighty. And eighty afraid that the situation will find it difficult to rebalance even after the summer break. At one time, in some way, at least the motorists could take advantage of the ‘summer break’ to develop and test, but today the closure is almost total. Yet I am sure that in the white corridors of the Gestione Sportiva, behind the frosted glass doors, someone will continue to mull over, trying to digest what happened, perhaps with the help of a glass of Hungarian amaro.
This was the race in which Ferrari had to reduce the gap and make it clear who, today, has the best car. And instead. Not even a podium, and the Mercedes with thirty points in the Constructors, and in an ascending trend. Given the proper proportions, a slap similar to when, a short time ago, the Reds ended up doubled. This Ferrari is in danger of becoming the third force: yet it wasn’t even on Sunday, at least for half the race. They tried to convince us that there was a problem in the overall performance, so much so that Sainz did not recover even on Soft tires in the final; and in part it is also true that the low temperatures – as in Imola – slowed the pace of the F1-75. Something was also seen in qualifying, where the front row was expected and instead Russell’s mockery had arrived. But what do we do with Leclerc overtaking George? At that moment, the Red was dominating.
And then it is useless to go around it so much: whether they were white, red or yellow, Ferrari did not understand how to use the tires in this race. Those who started with the most tender compounds did not immediately put them in crisis, as the strategists of Maranello expected; and he also had the advantage of ‘unmarking’ them, being able to switch to Mediums, since in the end it didn’t rain. As for the white Hard, with similar temperatures they were a suicidal choice; but above all they had not been evaluated enough with the famous extrapolations in free practice. And if Ferrari hadn’t kept fresh yellow tires aside, who do we blame? Then there would also be discussions on whether to cover the Red Bull strategy when you could do the race on yourself. The fact is that Leclerc’s last pit stop to mount a train of red Softs was, in reality, a white flag. In the post-race statements, it should be noted the greater identity of views between Binotto and Sainz, compared to the words spoken through gritted teeth by Leclerc. We see that the perception was different, because Charles had felt the right step, for forty laps.
But once again we find ourselves discussing compounds and tactics, very often – as I had already written – confused with strategies. By strategy I mean something broader. Well, I never wanted to believe it, but I’m afraid whoever whispered to me long ago was right the victory in the world championship, for 2022, was not in the budget. Yes, I know, the leaders of Maranello in 2020 repeated to the workers: this year we suffer, the next we suffer a little, but in two years you will see. Then, however, they had also made a cautious reverse in the company courtyards. On the basis of a logic that is not too strange, that is: we have a new Power Unit, a heat engine that could give us (and gives us) a huge cavalry advantage, but puts reliability in crisis. So for this year we take what comes and fix the failures, so as to arrive at 2023 with a winning equipment.
This was the dominant thought on the eve of the championship, of this championship. But then something unexpected happened. On the one hand, the most feared rival, Mercedes, took the step (not in the sense of wheelbase) longer than the leg. On the other hand, Adrian Newey did not perform a miracle, but “alone” done a great job based on the new rules. And finally, the F1-75 has surpassed, not only in a relative sense, the rosiest performance predictions. Like someone who goes to harvest potatoes and finds a gold nugget in his hand. It is a concern that everyone would like to have, but it is still a concern. It must be managed, so as not to be afraid of throwing the nugget in the waste bin. And that’s a little bit what’s happening, plus the fear (almost certainty) of another couple of races starting from the back of the grid. Only, at this point, who guarantees that in 2023 Mercedes will still be problematicgiven that moreover lately goes to the podium regularly?
When at Red Bull, well, when Verstappen swore on the radio because the engine wasn’t thrusting, they instructed him over the radio which ‘fail’ procedure to set from the steering wheel. The equivalent of the ‘driver’s default’ of the Cavallino; nothing esoteric, it is a simple reset. Here, a reset is what Maranello would need right now. Turn off and restart. There are four weeks from here to Spa to think about it.
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