Ferrari started the season on Cloud 9. A 1-2 finish, and both of their main rivals retired. Then they had a 2-3 finish in Saudi Arabia and another victory, albeit with Carlos Sainz’s retirement, in Australia. They were looking poised for the title, and much, much improved compared to their 2020 and 2021 selves.
Six races later, Ferrari now find themselves 76 points behind Red Bull. While it was expected that Red Bull will cut down the gap as they got on top of their reliability woes and developed the car further, no one could have expected that they will be so comfortable in the lead right now.
Some of that is just down to not having the pace compared to Red Bull on the weekends, but there have been other factors: Carlos Sainz has retired three times for the season, and Charles Leclerc has retired twice only in the last four races. Aside from reliability, Ferrari have also made a few questionable strategic calls, as in Monaco.
While Red Bull have also suffered reliability woes, most recently in Canada, where Sergio Perez retired from a transmission issue, one could say that the net cost of these retirements have been much worse for Ferrari.
For example, Max Verstappen’s two retirements came when he was squarely in second place, but both of Charles Leclerc’s retirements came with him driving in the lead. Many fans are already losing hope in the team. Bernie Ecclestone was also optimistic about Ferrari’s hopes, but he is not believing anymore.
Bernie Ecclestone: “Anyone betting on Ferrari will be losing money.”
Bernie Ecclestone is writing off Ferrari’s title chances and feels that anyone who has bet money on them will get nothing back for it. Speaking to Swiss newspaper Blick, the former F1 boss said:
“Errors are creeping in again. The reliability we are seeing is often reminiscent of the old days and the drivers themselves are not always confident on the track.”
According to Ecclestone, this ‘unconfident’ behavior of the drivers on track is giving Max Verstappen an easy time on top. He said: “It means Max is having an easy time in the Red Bull with six wins already. Like many people, I had hoped that Ferrari would succeed again after more than 14 years.”
Before the race in Imola, Charles Leclerc once had a 46-point lead against Max Verstappen. That lead has quickly evaporated and has not instead turned to a deficit of 49 points, and Leclerc is not even second in the championship table. “Unfortunately, I have to say that anyone who continues to put their money on Ferrari or Leclerc will get nothing.”
While Ecclestone might not be optimistic about his chances, Charles Leclerc remains confident that provided reliability is addressed, Ferrari still have a chance. Leclerc will be looking to get back to winning ways in Silverstone, where last year he was potentially deprived of a win due to engine issues, instead, he had to settle for a second-place finish.