It has taken us just 3 months to reach the South Pole from the North! In the last issue, I wrote about how Red Bull Racing’s new engine program failed them and how the teams with Ferrari engines were galloping like horses. Now, we’re on the complete opposite end of the spectrum and Ferrari has failed massively to capitalise on the five podiums they scored in the first three races.
After the Australian Grand Prix, everyone was talking about how this season was turning out to be Ferrari’s and Charles Leclerc’s! The Monégasque driver had won 2 races, came second in one, registered two poles & two fastest laps all in the span of three races. 71 points in the races could be the dream start he could’ve asked for.
The driver who followed him in the points table was George Russell (with 37 points) who was driving a struggling Mercedes and the closest Red Bull driver in the points table was Sergio Perez, not Max Verstappen! The defending champion was having the worst possible start to his season. Two retirements in three races meant, the Dutch driver was 46 points off of leader Leclerc.
With such a start, Ferrari enjoyed a lead of 49 points over Red Bull and the next race was in their home, Italy! Everything was falling in place for them. But the sad irony was that the dream was shattered into pieces in front of the home crowd. Ferrari failed to take the podium in Imola as Carlos Sainz failed to complete the second straight race in a row, and leader Leclerc finished sixth.
The rain before the race made it difficult for the Ferrari drivers and they both suffered bad fortune even before turn 1. Sainz was hit by Ricciardo and forced to retire, meanwhile Leclerc’s poor start evaporated all the expectations of the Tifosi. To rub salt into the wounds, Red Bull piled up 58 points in Emilia Romagna GP, 3 more than they managed in the three previous races combined.
ஒட்டுமொத்த விகடனுக்கும் ஒரே ஷார்ட்கட்!
Miami was not bad for Ferrari, but two podium places weren’t sufficient to maintain the difference from their title rivals. Leclerc and Carlos Sainz scored a combined 33 points, whereas Max Verstappen’s brilliant victory, coupled with Sergio Perez’s fourth place finish gave Red Bull 38 points. With that Ferrari’s lead at the top is reduced to just 6 points.
Since Verstappen won all three of the races he completed, the narratives started to change. With 17 races remaining, the odds turned towards the defending champion to pip Leclerc in the title race and in the Constructors battle, Red Bull looks pretty confident. Who added fuel to that fire, it was Ferrari’s own power unit!
In Spain, Leclerc’s power unit failed and he has to concede the race in which he was supposed to win! It was repeated in Baku along with Sainz’s hydraulic failure thus making it their first double retirement for the season. If that’s not enough for Ferrari’s struggle, a bad pit call in Monaco robbed Leclerc of his first ever home win. To put an end to this, Ferrari opted to go with a new power unit for Leclerc in Montreal and he did an incredible job to finish fifth, starting from 19th.
With everything going wrong for the Prancing Horse, the Red Bulls were raging and piled up points for fun. As a constructor, they are enjoying their best run since 2013 by winning 6 straight races. In the last 6 races, they’ve managed ten podiums too! Now the difference between them and Ferrari is 76 points and this time the Bull’s nose is edging.
The driver’s championship on the other hand has gone from Verstappen vs Leclerc to
erstappen vs Perez in no time. Perez’s brilliance on Saturdays, his consistency on the race days and a scintillating victory in Monaco made him one of the protagonists in the title race. The Mexican is now sitting behind Max and Charles and if not for his own power unit failure in Montreal, the difference to Verstappen would have been less than 46.
After 3 races, the Ferrari was flying high like a unicorn. But in the span of 3 months, the raging bull has broken its horn and made it realise that it is not going to be special this time either. Also, the problem doesn’t end with Mattia Binotto’s team. Haas who had a flying start to their campaign, failed to score in the last 5 races and the American based team has seen at least one retirement since Monaco. The same can be said for Alfa Romeo, who have seen three retirements in the last 5 races. If we consider the total number of retirements after these 9 races, the teams with Ferrari engines have the worst record.
If there is something that we learned in the past 3 months, that is we should not come to any conclusion. We are not even halfway through the season and we can move to the other pole again three months later. Who knows, Mercedes who are pacing up slowly could overpower the other two teams. Who knows?!