FRENCH GP – Ferrari serves victory to Red Bull on a silver platter: 108 points less for Charles Leclerc


A hole. The day after the French Grand Prix, Max Verstappen (Red Bull) distanced Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) by 63 points in the championship. An unprecedented gap in F1 in the last five years after 12 rounds… and which seems difficult to overcome for the Monegasque, with ten races to go. Last year, Verstappen had a disbursement of 3 units on Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

French Grand Prix

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So, Monday morning, the international press was unanimous: by its mistakes and those of its drivers, Ferrari is serving on a silver platter the world titles to Red Bull and Max Verstappen. A hard but relentless observation, which comes after Charles Leclerc’s second error of the season at Le Castellet. Installed in the lead of the race with 10 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), the representative of the Principality propelled his SF-75 into a wall of tires. His Dutch rival took the opportunity to take the 25 points promised to the winner. And to plunge Ferrari a little more into a crisis of results.

Because the representative of the Principality is not the only one responsible for the evils of the Scuderia. The red single-seater is perhaps the most powerful on the grid, but that’s not all. When reliability leaves the transalpine team alone, the strategists take over and go astray in the race, between pilot management problems and (often) failed decisions. The team’s shovel errors at the Prancing Horse cost many points. Example with Leclerc: what would have been his situation before the Hungarian Grand Prix, this Sunday, if he had not been affected by all these problems?

EMILIA ROMAGNA GRAND PRIX: 7 POINTS

  • Status : P3 on 53rd of 63 laps (15 points)
  • Cause : error – runway excursion
  • Final result : P6 (8 points)

The first misstep of the season. His poor start from the front row cost him two places and forced him to take risks to face Max Verstappen (Red Bull), poleman. Charles Leclerc trades his mediums for soft ones on the 49th lap and doubles Lando Norris (McLaren) for P3. He is placed in the mirrors of Sergio Pérez (Red Bull). The outcome is inevitable, but the Monegasque climbs a curb in the Variante Alta and goes to hit the protections, damaging his wing at the front left. Forced to return to the pits after being overtaken by Norris, he came out P9 and managed to move up three positions. Leclerc is doing well, but he loses 7 points.

SPANISH GRAND PRIX: 25 POINTS

  • Status : 1st to 27th of 66 laps (25 points)
  • Cause : engine failure
  • Final result : abandonment (0 points)

Victory is promised to him. On lap 27, Charles Leclerc was 13 seconds ahead of George Russell. Max Verstappen is not in good shape: the Dutchman visits the gravel trap and does not seem able to worry the Monegasque, who retains the lead after his pit stop. The Ferrari suddenly slows down. Power loss. Engine breakage. First retirement of the season. And a cry on the radio – « Nooooo! » – who will come back often during the season. Thanks to an instruction from Red Bull, Verstappen overtakes Sergio Pérez, takes the victory and takes control of the championship for the first time in 2022.

MONACO GRAND PRIX: 13 POINTS

  • Status : 1st to 17th of 64 laps (25 points)
  • Cause : strategy – unwelcome pit stops
  • Final result : P4 (12 points)

Charles Leclerc does not want to hear about « curse » in his national Grand Prix. To see him finish a race in Monaco, you have to go back to 2010 and a karting competition organized on the Port. The local of the stage built his weekend well, taking a pole celebrated throughout the Principality until the early morning. Before the cold shower.

First literally: downpours fell on the circuit a few minutes before the start, forcing the organizers to postpone the race for an hour. Then figuratively: in the lead while the track was dry, Leclerc suffered from the strategy of Sergio Pérez (Red Bull), who passed the intermediate two laps before and took first place from him. The Ferrari driver was recalled three loops later by his engineer… and had to wait behind his teammate Carlos Sainz in the pit lane. He finally finished at the foot of the podium, behind Max Verstappen (Red Bull), and gave up 13 points.

AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX: 25 POINTS

  • Status : 1st to 20th of 51 laps (25 points)
  • Cause : engine failure
  • Final result : abandonment (0 points)

Smoke comes out of the single-seater of Charles Leclerc, then solid leader of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with more than 11 seconds ahead of his rival for the world crown, after 20 laps. Carafe engine. Double abandonment Ferrari, since Carlos Sainz is affected by a hydraulic failure. The Barcelona scenario repeats itself. Voices are raised for the first time to denounce a lack of reliability of Scuderia cars. As for the three previous races, the Monegasque’s pole position went up in smoke. Meanwhile, Red Bull grabs 44 points.

BRITAIN GRAND PRIX: 13 POINTS

  • Status : 1st to 42nd of 52 laps (25 points)
  • Cause : strategy – no pit stop under safety car
  • Final result : P4 (12 points)

The sacrificed. The Monegasque leads at Silverstone after 39 laps, taking advantage of the setbacks of Max Verstappen (Red Bull) on the 12th loop. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) was forced to retire and caused the exit of the safety car. Charles Leclerc remains on the track, unlike his pursuers Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Sergio Pérez (Red Bull), who come out of the pits with tenders. Left to his own devices with his worn toughs, he resists heroically before being bitten. It is from the foot of the podium that he will watch his teammate celebrate his first victory.

FRENCH GRAND PRIX: 25 POINTS

  • Status : 1st to 18th of 53 laps (25 points)
  • Cause : error – runway excursion
  • Final result : abandonment (0 points)

Again, the Saturday afternoon masterclass is useless. However, it is the result of teamwork, supposed to show unity within the Scuderia. Superior to Max Verstappen (Red Bull) in the first laps, Charles Leclerc must pick up the pace to protect himself from the Dutchman’s undercut attempt. He then committed his biggest fault at Ferrari since his arrival in 2020 by losing the rear at the start of the Beausset double right. Abandonment. A jump in concentration with great consequences. A huge turning point in the season.

ASSESSMENT: 108 POINTS LOST

A hundred points, in a perfect world, should have gone to the Monegasque. It’s too much for the driver, but especially for the team. At the end of the Grand Prix de France on Sunday, in an exercise in self-criticism to be welcomed, Leclerc quantified his responsibility at 32 points. This leaves 76 units in charge of the Scuderia.

And again, we have not taken into account the Canadian Grand Prix, which the representative of the Principality finished in fifth place. He had started from the back of the grid, penalized for a change of power plant, and could have added additional points to his pocket. Since the start of the season, and apart from the inaugural Grand Prix, Ferrari has had the greatest difficulty in putting everything together to have a perfect weekend.

With 63 points to make up for, the mass is almost over. In the Red Bull camp, we are already starting to count the number of victories to be ensured to guarantee a second coronation in a row for Max Verstappen (« between three and five more » according to Helmut Marko). The Austrian team leaves the transalpine radar, on which appears dangerously Mercedes. There is one race left before the summer break. The characteristics of the Hongaroring stick well to those of the SF-75. « We have many reasons to smile and be positive, because our goal in Hungary should not be to win, but to get a double »maintained Mattia Binotto.

Leclerc and Ferrari will have to get back in the saddle quickly to give themselves a (small) chance and not lose everything. Otherwise, the words of the boss of the Scuderia, spoken before the start of the season, will tragically return: « You always told me to give Charles Leclerc a good car. Now we’ll see. »

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