Why Ferrari are treading a familiar path to F1 failure

Even though there is still plenty of time to turn things around, it feels we’ve been here before with Ferrari.

Now that Ferrari have a competitive car capable of winning races and championships once again, the past few displays have shown their title-winning acumen should be questioned once again. A swing of 80 points between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in just five races is proof enough of that.

Leclerc has taken pole in six of the eight rounds in 2022 so far, but only has two wins to show for it, whereas the Red Bull driver has won five of the six races he has finished heading into Canada.

Granted, Verstappen's relentless consistency and strong overtaking moves have played a part in his success this year, but Ferrari have once again shot themselves in the foot on too many occasions.

This is not the first time it's happened, either.

Fernando Alonso at Silverstone

To start with, cast your minds back to Silverstone in 2010. Fernando Alonso had started third but suffered a slow getaway and ended up stuck behind Robert Kubica's Renault.

He made a move around the outside at Vale, but cut across the track in doing so. Race director Charlie Whiting said he had instructed Ferrari three times to make Alonso give the position back, but the Spaniard ignored him and subsequently got a drive-through penalty that dropped him out of the points.

Given that he finished just four points behind Sebastian Vettel in the championship (Vitaly Petrov surely haunting his dreams after being stuck behind for most of the final race), a moment of clarity from the driver or pit wall could well have earned him a third title. Though a crash through driver error at Spa and an engine failure in Malaysia won't have helped matters either.

It's not as if they haven't had the driving talent to compete, either. We should absolutely make clear that Alonso drove the wheels off his Ferrari at times, with 2012 springing to mind.

He should have been nowhere near title contention in the first place, after winning only three of the 20 races that year - but still came to within three points of glory. A mightily impressive feat, as gut-wrenching as it was for him to miss out.

Ferrari creating headaches

But Ferrari have had more recent examples of having problems of their own making. Let's think of 2017 in particular, when the Scuderia matched Mercedes in creating a front-running car when a new specification was brought in.

With Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in place and five World titles between them, their combined driver pairing was arguably the strongest on the grid in their time together as team-mates.

Vettel took the fight to Lewis Hamilton as well, the two trading race wins for much of the first half of the season, and the Ferrari driver even led the World Championship with only eight races to go.

But then the season began to crumble for Ferrari.

A careering Raikkonen and Verstappen slammed into Vettel at the start in Singapore, before reliability came into things.

A faulty spark plug on the grid in Suzuka was not fixed properly and saw the German out of the race, and a grid penalty in Malaysia hampered his chances further while Mercedes soared.

From leading the championship to seeing Hamilton wrap up the title with two races to spare should have been a wake-up call for Ferrari, but things would go awry again the following season.

Vettel has to take his fair share of blame for how things panned out in 2018 though, having again been at the top of the standings as the season reached its halfway point.

Crashing out in wet conditions in Germany was followed by spins after contact with Hamilton and Verstappen in Italy and Japan, meaning Hamilton could eventually canter to another title.

So, long story short, when it's mattered in the 15 years that have passed since Raikkonen's Drivers' title, something has happened which has made Ferrari fall short.

The 2022 season

But rather than making amends for previous failures by driver or team, it seems that the same lack of composure or reliability in key situations has continued into this year.

Leclerc's clear anger over team radio after dropping from the lead to fourth over Ferrari's strategy call was the first public sign of tension between him and the team.

Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz effectively deciding his own strategy over the team could have been a sign of the confidence of his convictions - or a possible lack of trust in his strategists.

But Leclerc's retirement from the lead in Spain coupled with a double DNF in Baku through hydraulic and power unit failures - and two other Ferrari-powered retirements - is a sure sign that things need to improve across the board for Ferrari if they are to get back on track in this title fight.

There are positives here, though. They have a driver pairing which is more than capable of matching the Red Bull partnership, the car is extremely strong when it works properly and there is still a lot of racing to be done yet.

But at 80 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors' Championship and a hefty gap to Verstappen at the top - in a Red Bull team with more recent experience in title-fighting situations - there needs to be a shift in mentality and better execution within the Scuderia if they are to keep up.

Read more: A matured Max Verstappen has the world at his feet and only he decides what comes next

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