The recent Belgium Grand Prix was meant to be the turning point in Ferrari’s season. Admittedly there have already been high points, such as when Charles Leclerc led the team back to their winning ways in this year’s Formula One World Championship curtain raiser in Bahrain. But the Monagascque driver should be comfortably leading this year’s title race by some distance, and he isn’t. After dominating in Australia, Ferrari’s main man held a 50+ point lead atop of the driver’s standings. But since then, it has been one thing after another – usually through no fault of his own – that has left his title charge in tatters. Oddschecker, which provides no deposit offers for sports betting, made Max Verstappen the favourite to retain the championship trophy which he won in dramatic fashion last season, and with eight races remaining, it looks as though they will be proven right.
That’s because the Flying Dutchman has capitalised on every scarlet-coloured mistake. The reigning world champion battled back from two DNFs in his first three races to now lead the championship by a staggering 93 points. His dominance came to a head at Spa when – despite starting a lowly 14th on the grid – he romped to victory by some 18 seconds past his teammate Sergio Perez. Thanks to a first-lap collision between the fast-starting Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, and Leclerc’s forced early pitstop, Verstappen was already up to P3 by the eighth lap. By lap 12, he was in the lead, and Red Bull’s main man didn’t look back, securing his ninth win of the season.
Such has been Ferraris fall from grace since those opening few weeks of the new term, that Leclerc now doesn’t even hold second place in the driver’s championship anymore. He has fallen down to third, with Perez five points clear of Ferrari’s main man. So where exactly did it all go wrong?
Poor decisions end Leclerc’s title challenge
The problems began for Ferrari in Barcelona, when Charles Leclerc’s engine failed him as he was on course for a comfortable victory. The same thing would occur three weeks later in Azerbaijan, when the engine of the prancing horse would once again let its head driver down while he was leading. Admittedly, those aren’t things that team principal Binotto can take responsibility for. But during the race sandwiched between Spain and Baku, the powers that be on the Ferrari pit wall were most definitely at fault.
In Monaco, Leclerc – in his home Grand Prix – was comfortably leading in wet conditions. But as the track began to dry, his team didn’t react, allowing Sergio Perez to pit for dry tyres, and emerge in the lead. To make matters worse, Verstappen and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz inexplicably pitted before the race leader, meaning that he eventually emerged back into the race in fourth place, where he would finish.
It was the same case at Silverstone. Leclerc was comfortably leading from his teammate and Hamilton when a late safety car triggered the field to pit for fresh tyres. Not Leclerc though; his team forced him to pit out and instead boxed his second-place teammate, who would go on to win the race. Leclerc would once again finish fourth in a race he should have comfortably won.
In Hungary, with Leclerc challenging Verstappen for the lead, his team put him on the dreaded hard compound tyre – a tyre that the whole paddock had avoided all weekend. Unsurprisingly, Leclerc dropped down the field like a fly, leaving his championship challenge in tatters.
The final nail in the coffin came in Belgium. Firstly, the Scuderia put the wrong tyres on Leclerc’s car in qualifying. Then, late on during a disappointing race, Binotto chose to pit his main driver and attempt to go for the fastest lap – despite Leclerc’s protests against it. Not only did he not get the fastest lap, but he also lost a position to Alonso.
With that being said, it’s easy to see how the campaign has fallen apart for the Maranello-based outfit. Minus mistakes in France and Emilia-Romagna, Leclerc has been in scintillating form, with his own team being his worst enemy on numerous occasions. It’s hard to see how the pair can reconcile going forward, but if they are to bring a first championship back to Italy in 15 years, they will need to get on the same page – and fast.