Carlos Sainz stood and stood and stood. How slowly 12.7 seconds can pass. When he understood why he was with his Ferrari parked in the pit lane for so long, he was so horrified that he only uttered a short exclamation: “Oh my God!” What a disaster.
Did that really happen? Did he just lose important time here because a tire was missing?! Yes indeed. One of those huge, heavy tires had been forgotten in the garage. While all the other changes had already been made, there was a gaping hole in the rear left, and many a mechanic scratched their heads at the tragi-comic spectacle in red that was being performed once again. Everything should finally go better at the Dutch Grand Prix. But again Ferrari had to Max Verstappen and watch Red Bull win.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” said Sainz after he had been handed a time penalty for dangerous driving at another stop and had crossed the finish line in eighth place. He had started the race from third place. “We were always in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Sainz said. “We have to improve as a team, so we’ll lose the points ourselves.” His teammate had a similar experience before the summer break Charles Leclerc and his boss Mattia Binotto formulates the perseverance slogan; it just doesn’t want to succeed in avoiding mistakes.
Disillusionment has long spread. The season is basically over. “We want to make sure that we can get involved next year,” said Sainz, “so we’d rather make the mistakes this year than next.” It didn’t sound like he was expecting the chain of mishaps to break.
Binotto ruled out personal consequences, the team is great, he said
Looking back on this year, Zandvoort’s failed pit stop should be symbolic of how much Scuderia stumbled over itself. Whereby there is no lack of illustrative material. In addition to driving errors, the striking technology and the incomprehensible strategy breakdowns in tactical decisions are particularly noticeable – and the list gets longer and longer. It’s amazing how strong Ferrari started the season as a serious title contender and how the team is doing now. Yes, in the world championship standings, Leclerc and Ferrari are second as constructors. But the proud traditional racing team is not progressing, red bull and Mercedes, on the other hand, are evolving and can almost count on the Scuderia torpedoing itself.
Binotto explained the catastrophic first pit stop by saying that the information about the tire change came late in response to the competition, which is why the mechanics were not ready: “It was just a mess.” The 52-year-old is sticking to his strategy of responding to the chaos in public with calm and confidence. He firmly ruled out personal consequences, the team is great, but the pressure is growing. And the horror at the latest performance is also great in Italy because this Sunday is driving in Monza.
Another debacle in front of thousands of tifosi would be unbearable. Of the Corriere della Sera found the performance “was powerless to the point that you thought the Cavallino had lost the gallop rhythm in the race, that technical panache that makes you think of Red Bull”.
As in Spa and Budapest, Binotto identified the F1-75’s lack of performance as a weakness. “It’s not going as it should. We don’t have the pace we want. Then you can’t fight with the best either,” he said: “We had to defend rather than attack. That’s life even more difficult.” He thinks that the full potential of the car is not being tapped: “Something is wrong that we need to address.” Leclerc agreed that he could hardly do more to challenge Verstappen. “We have to try to bring back the speed that we had at the beginning of the season,” said the Monegasque: “It looks like we’ve lost it.”
Leclerc is far behind Verstappen in the World Cup standings, he can only mathematically become world champion
Mercedes, on the other hand, found the speed again and presented themselves so strongly on Sunday that the team could at least speculate whether victory would have been possible without the late safety car phase. Verstappen, who was the leader in this phase at the restart on the straight, benefited from this Lewis Hamilton missed. The interruption also helped Leclerc: Thanks to another tire change – the strategists made the right decision here – he was also able to overtake Hamilton and finish third behind his teammate George Russell, who, like Verstappen and Leclerc, had previously had the soft rubber compound put on. “Mercedes is also in the fight now and the cars are very fast, today they were extremely fast,” said Leclerc.
But Verstappen remains his benchmark. That doesn’t make it any easier. The Dutchman and his team are brilliant, it seems as if this dominant crew is beginning a new era. In Zandvoort he won his tenth of 15 races of the season. In the past ten Grands Prix, Verstappen has only started from the front three times, but has finished on the podium nine times, seven of them on the top step. Leclerc’s meager record: four pole positions, one win. Verstappen leads the World Cup with 310 points, Leclerc has 201. Mathematically, he could still become world champion. But not even the ambitious Charles Leclerc himself should believe that.