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Ferrari threatens to forfeit world title by its own hand

Ferrari threatens to forfeit world title by its own hand

7 July - 16:45 Last update: 16:56
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GPblog.com

Charles Leclerc had a great opportunity to close the gap on Max Verstappen at Silverstone last weekend, but his team let him down. The problem is clear: while the Monegasque has amply demonstrated that he is the better Ferrari driver of the season, the team is still reluctant to admit it. This has already cost him a lot of points this calendar year. How many points could the driver have scored if Ferrari had stuck by him?

After victories in Bahrain and Australia, it was clear to the outside world that Ferrari were in contention for the world title this season. The car of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz not only looked strong, but the first driver showed in his fight with Verstappen that he was not going to let his cheese be eaten away. It made for some interesting battles on track. 

With team boss Mattia Binotto stating prior to the season that he didn't want to make a distinction between Leclerc and Sainz, the first question marks immediately arose about the policy. Sainz crashed out in Australia and Imola, not exactly establishing himself as a constant factor for the team. It seemed to be the moment for Ferrari to communicate to the outside world that Leclerc would be the frontrunner in 2022, but Binotto's team failed to do so.

After a good period for Sainz, the gap between Leclerc, who suffered crashes in Spain and Azerbaijan, and the Spaniard narrowed further, making it too late for Ferrari to downgrade either driver to second driver. A title fight with Red Bull is therefore further away than ever. However, it would have been a different story if the Italians had been targeting Leclerc in recent races.

Misjudgments at Monaco and Silverstone

Ferrari left Leclerc out in the cold in Monaco. The driver was allowed to start the race from pole position, but was unable to hold this place. His team had a major part to play in this, as poor communication and a painful pit stop meant he completely gave away his first starting spot. He eventually finished in fourth place, while Sainz managed to take the second position. If his team had sacrificed Sainz for Leclerc, he would have been on six points more.

The race weekend in England was even more painful. After Verstappen's problems, Ferrari seemed to be able to take advantage. The Dutchman had to fight for the points, while Leclerc and Sainz drove together at the front. It seemed easy for a top team to get two podiums, but even they failed. Instead of 25 points for Leclerc, he only managed 12 points, which is the minimum he could lose to Verstappen. Sainz did manage to win, but that doesn't seem to help the team much.

Sainz and Leclerc barely missed each other

If Ferrari's aim was to bring Sainz closer to Leclerc then they succeeded. The gap has shrunk to eleven points over the last few races, allowing Sainz to get within sight of his teammate. Red Bull Racing, however, is safely on top and will be eager to see how Leclerc and Sainz continue to gain points from each other.

In Monaco and Silverstone, Leclerc lost nineteen points to his teammate, which could have put him at 157 points in the world championship. The difference with Verstappen at that point would have been 24 points, which could have led to a similar battle as last season between the reigning world champion and Hamilton. Instead, Verstappen is breathing a sigh of relief and will know he will be strong again in Austria.

Ferrari must make choice for world title

If Ferrari really want to compete for the world title this season they will have to make a choice between Sainz and Leclerc. The Italians simply cannot afford to have the two drivers continue to steal points from each other, while this is a different story at Red Bull. Leclerc is the most logical candidate, but it remains to be seen whether Ferrari really wants to move on. For the time being Ferrari chooses to let the season drag on.

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