The Curse Of Monaco Still Looms Over Leclerc. So Where Did Ferrari Go Wrong?

Our Sports Writer Hannah Peart visited Monaco for the Grand Prix at the end of May, and brings her trackside take on one of F1’s most illustrious weekends, as well as her thoughts on Ferrari’s progress this year.



Monaco. A sovereign city-state on the French Riviera, known for its lavish wealth, casinos and — of course — the Grand Prix. Monaco is also home to local hero and Ferrari main man Charles Leclerc, who before coming to Monaco lagged only 6 points behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship. By the British Grand Prix at the start of this month, the points gap had grown significantly to 43 points; so, what has happened to the Italian team to cause this significant gap in the drivers’ championship?

 

Starting in Monaco, Monegasque Leclerc set to dominate his home race. Both Ferrari cars were quick in all free practices and in qualifying Leclerc managed to get his car onto pole position. It seemed like he would finally be able to have some much sought-after joy in the streets he grew up in.  Leclerc had never finished a Monaco Grand Prix he had competed in throughout his motor racing career, which did not bode well for the race on Sunday.



With Leclerc on pole and Sainz beside him, a Ferrari front row lock out on the grid gave them vital track position at a circuit where overtaking is regarded as impossible. It seemed all too good to be true for Ferrari, and just as it looked like the team were going to sweep up substantial points with Leclerc looking to overtake Verstappen in the Championship, the heavens opened.

 

Once the race finally got underway after very heavy rain brought out the red flag, Leclerc was steadily pulling away at the front with all the grid on full wet tyres. As the track was starting to dry up, some teams were quick to pit and put on the intermediate tyres. After a hefty crash from Mick Schumacher caused another red flag, the race was back underway for the second time with Ferrari and Red Bull fighting it out at the front.


The front-runners then swapped to intermediates, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez coming into the pits for intermediate tyres on Lap 17. Ferrari wanted to maintain track position, but by the time Ferrari and Red Bull had pitted Leclerc and Verstappen two laps later it was the Mexican’s car that led the race due to rapid lap times. Ferrari then decided to pit both of their drivers to give Carlos Sainz hard tyres, again pitting Leclerc for a Ferrari double-stack. Red Bull followed one lap later and pulled off an overcut with their own double-stack.By the time the four drivers were back out on the track, Perez was leading with Sainz in second, Verstappen in third and Leclerc dropping all the way down to fourth, out of the podium positions.

Ferrari lost Leclerc the lead by pitting him unnecessarily. As they double stacked him in the pits, the Monegasque lost track position and the race.  Perez managed to secure his third win in Formula One with Checo also becoming the first Mexican driver to win the Monaco Grand Prix.


After disappointment in Monaco, Ferrari were looking to make amends as they travelled to Baku, Azerbaijan and then Montreal, Canada before heading to the home of Formula One, Silverstone, Great Britain. Engine problems in Baku resulted in both Ferraris not making it to the chequered flag,and in Montreal Leclerc faced a 10-place grid penalty after Ferrari were penalised for replacing a power unit component.Ferrari fans were hoping Silverstone may be the race where the team could narrow the gap on the Red Bull drivers;however, this was also a race that had fans scratching their heads at Ferrari’s strategy.

 

Carlos Sainz did win the British Grand Prix, securing his first ever win in Formula One a delight to most fans.However, on the other side of the garage, for his teammate Charles Leclerc, it all went wrong. What should've been a simple one-two for the team in Silverstone was, yet again, several mistakes. 



Ferrari had plenty of time to pit both Sainz and Leclerc under a safety car after Esteban Ocon had a fuel pump issue. The team only pitted Sainz to put him onto soft tyres for the closing stages of the race and decided against bringing in Leclerc, which ultimately cost him the victory. He only managed to finish fourth after being overtaken by his teammate, Perez and Hamilton, who all pitted under the safety car for soft tyres. On a weekend where Verstappen could only manage seventh due to bodywork damage, it was a huge disappointment again at the haphazard Ferrari strategy decisions. Possibly the double stacking issue that lost Leclerc the Monaco Grand Prix made Ferrari doubt that they would have sufficient time to pit both drivers at Silverstone without losing too much track position.

 

Having failed to win any of the last seven races and with only one finish on the podium despite having started four of them from pole position, Leclerc and Ferrari have become familiar with disappointment over the last few races.

Undisputedly, Ferrari have a fast car with two very competent and skilful drivers. They need to improve their strategy to maximise their potential if they have any chance of coming close to the Championship this season.The front-runners then swapped to intermediates, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez coming into the pits for intermediate tyres on Lap 17. Ferrari wanted to maintain track position, but by the time Ferrari and Red Bull had pitted Leclerc and Verstappen two laps later it was the Mexican’s car that led the race due to rapid lap times. Ferrari then decided to pit both of their drivers to give Carlos Sainz hard tyres, again pitting Leclerc for a Ferrari double-stack. Red Bull followed one lap later and pulled off an overcut with their own double-stack.By the time the four drivers were back out on the track, Perez was leading with Sainz in second, Verstappen in third and Leclerc dropping all the way down to fourth, out of the podium positions.


Ferrari lost Leclerc the lead by pitting him unnecessarily. As they double stacked him in the pits, the Monegasque lost track position and the race.  Perez managed to secure his third win in Formula One with Checo also becoming the first Mexican driver to win the Monaco Grand Prix.


After disappointment in Monaco, Ferrari were looking to make amends as they travelled to Baku, Azerbaijan and then Montreal, Canada before heading to the home of Formula One, Silverstone, Great Britain. Engine problems in Baku resulted in both Ferraris not making it to the chequered flag,and in Montreal Leclerc faced a 10-place grid penalty after Ferrari were penalised for replacing a power unit component.Ferrari fans were hoping Silverstone may be the race where the team could narrow the gap on the Red Bull drivers;however, this was also a race that had fans scratching their heads at Ferrari’s strategy.

 

Carlos Sainz did win the British Grand Prix, securing his first ever win in Formula One a delight to most fans.However, on the other side of the garage, for his teammate Charles Leclerc, it all went wrong. What should've been a simple one-two for the team in Silverstone was, yet again, several mistakes. 

 

Ferrari had plenty of time to pit both Sainz and Leclerc under a safety car after Esteban Ocon had a fuel pump issue. The team only pitted Sainz to put him onto soft tyres for the closing stages of the race and decided against bringing in Leclerc, which ultimately cost him the victory. He only managed to finish fourth after being overtaken by his teammate, Perez and Hamilton, who all pitted under the safety car for soft tyres. On a weekend where Verstappen could only manage seventh due to bodywork damage, it was a huge disappointment again at the haphazard Ferrari strategy decisions. Possibly the double stacking issue that lost Leclerc the Monaco Grand Prix made Ferrari doubt that they would have sufficient time to pit both drivers at Silverstone without losing too much track position.

 

Having failed to win any of the last seven races and with only one finish on the podium despite having started four of them from pole position, Leclerc and Ferrari have become familiar with disappointment over the last few races.

Undisputedly, Ferrari have a fast car with two very competent and skilful drivers. They need to improve their strategy to maximise their potential if they have any chance of coming close to the Championship this season.



Images: Hannah Peart



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