The 2019 Russian GP will be remebered because of the Ferrari’s team implosion. The last three race wins have covered a latent problem that suddenly came up when the Italian singel-seater showed to be competitive at Mercedes level: driver’s management and hierarchy. The technical failure of the hybrid components of the Pricing Horse was only the climax of the Perfect Storm in McLaren 2007’s style.
Before the race analysis: what did we see on Saturday’s qualifying?
6th Pole of the season for Charles Leclerc who outqualifies another time his teammate S. Vettel. The German driver wasn’t able to match Leclerc’s performance in any sector of the Russian track. The big difference came up in the last sector of the circuit where Vettel missed the opportunity to bring home an all-red first line. Hamiton’s ability to set the lap in the decisive moment of Q3 has been confirmed again.
Ferrari took a great advantage in the first sector of the track gaining 3-4 tens on the rivals. However, the speed track difference between Mercedes and Ferrari was of only 2 km/h meaning that the Italian combination of aero setup and power unit is faster in reaching the top speed.
There’s a lot to analyse. Starting from the beginning: the race start.
Vettel and the renegade slipstream.
Due to the track configuration (a very long straight before getting into the first corner ftom the grid) Ferrari planned to give Leclerc’s slipstream to Vettel in order to battle and overcome Hamilton. Up to here, no problem, since it was also the same strategy took Mecedes last year to protect Hamilton from Vettel’s attack at the first corner. But 4th time World Champion’s overtake on Leclerc was not supposed or contemplated. That was the great black hole in the Italian strategy, do not consider the possibility of overtake between the two drivers and not to make plans on paper before the race. In fact, at the end of the race Binotto admits: “We need to be clearer for the next GP“, conferming the pre-race plan of the grid start.
That events was the match that fire up the situation generating tension between the two Ferrari drivers. From Sebastian’s side he took the maximum he could starting from 3rd and turning 1st before the first turn. But wait! Do you think that Leclerc would have mantained the left side of the track if he had knew that Vettel would not have given back the position? I think that Leclerc expected his teammate to be more grateful since he could have taken advantage of the slipstream. For that reason I think that Leclerc would behave differently now he knows how things worked out.
But Vettel’s pace was faster than Leclerc’s, they could not have swapped…
Without doubts the German showed a great pace in the first stint. But we do not know what was the one of Leclerc since also at the end of the race we saw that even Charles was faster than Bottas he was unable to overtake his Mercedes. Here, I remark again a lack of authority from the tema’s side: Binotto & Co. should have pursued a well-defined race strategy which meant at that time take the responsibility of favouring Vettel or losing time to allow the swap. It should have been a team burden in order not to attend at the “Radio Ferrari Ga Ga” which lead us to talk about…
Ferrari’s team radios like a TV shows.
It seemed to participate in the quarell involving two brothers with Mum Binotto and Father Mekies trying to restore the calm. The continiung questions and answers between driver and his own engineer, Leclerc’s whining and Vettel’s silence to team order: all of that do not belong to Ferrari’s prestige. Some topics need to be faced out of the light of the show not during a worldwide broadcasting. These behaviours, even instigated by team’s organization lacks are also driver’s fault.
The technical failure: when the second becomes first.
The VSC (Virtual Safety Car) release after the technical failure on Vettel car gave to Mercedes the opportunity for the 1-2. A what if analysis it’s quite useless at this point but I want to highlight an aspect that only few fans have wondered about. What do you think of Vettel’s manouvre when he was asked to stop the car? Couldn’t the German driver have parked in a safer area or maybe rejoining the pitlane (even compromising the engine)? From Vettel’s attitude getting out of the Ferrari I saw the frustated driver of the Red Bull during his rivalry with M. Webber…
And to made the end even bitter, we notice that if Leclerc have pitted a lap earlier to put the soft tyre he could have mantained the 2nd position…
Leclerc: it’s the fastest man in Quali for Ferrari right now. The pole position gave the opportunity for Ferrari strategy to be 1-2 after the first corner. his young age push him to let people know his speed and his abilities. However, too much mournings in this weekend at the radio, but his strength coe from the awareness of being the Ferrari’s future. Despite the great performance the grade is affected by the whole team’s result. GRADE: 6.5/10.
Hamilton: he is always there in the best possible position waiting for his rivals’ mistakes. The 2nd place in Qualifying was his shot. The two dogs strive for a bone, and the third runs away with it. GRADE: 9/10.
Bottas: Great work protecting Hamilton’s position from Leclerc’s attacks. As the last year. GRADE: 7/10.
Verstappen: Good recovery but the speed wasn’t impressive this weekend. GRADE: 6.5/10.
Albon: Bad mistake in Qualifying but great recovery putting his Red Bull right behind the one of his teammate. The overcome on Gasly in World Championship is just there. GRADE: 7/10.
Vettel: he drove as a F1 driver and took the head of the race. Ferrari’s uncertainties in managing strategy and drivers put him and Leclerc in a difficult situation after result in Singapore. Not the best attitude getting out of the retired car. GRADE: 6/10.
Ferrari: Binotto and Mekies (below) have the responsibility of preserving the team’s stability and to allow the cohabitation between two fast drivers. The not accurate and detailed starting grid plan upset Leclerc while an unfair strategy of overcutting Vettel disappointed the German driver. To sum-up it’s the perfect story to make both drivers unhappy and the fans angry with the win gifted to Mercedes. GRADE: 4/10.
What are your thoughts? Which side do you take? Let’s write us in the comments!