No clear answer for Ferrari


Suffering its first double DNF of the season, Mattia Binotto admits concern at the reliability that threatens his team's championship hopes.

In the opening stages of the season, as Charles Leclerc began to build a sizeable lead in the championship, the only chink in Ferrari's armour appeared to be teammate Carlos Sainz' failure to avoid incidents and keep it on the black stuff.

Elsewhere, the pace and form of Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen, in particular, suggested that Ferrari's new power unit was the one to beat.

Then came Leclerc's retirement whilst leading the Spanish Grand Prix, and while it was strategy that let the youngster down in his home race, it was another engine failure that eliminated him in Baku. This on a day Sainz suffered a hydraulics issue just 8 laps into the race.

That double-DNF leaves Ferrari 80 points adrift of Red Bull, and only 38 ahead of Mercedes, while Leclerc has now slipped to third in the driver standings.

Fans of a certain vintage, of course, have seen this all before, and as the tifosi reflects on the 15-year gap since the Scuderia last won the title, will recall the 21 years that separated Jody Scheckter's and Michael Schumacher's titles.

"We still need to analyse and understand," said Mattia Binotto when asked to explain the disaster that was Baku. "You can see the two cars, they had different problems. With Carlos now we'll look at the hydraulic system, and hopefully we'll identify it.

"On Charles a different one, certainly engine related," he admitted, "I think it's quite obvious by the smoke.

"Is that something we had in the past? I don't think so, but maybe yes, and we do look as well at what happened to our customer teams.

"But I don't think only with the telemetry data we can have a clear answer to the problem. The components will be shipped back to Maranello and as usual, disassembled to try to understand and to fix them as soon as possible.

"Is it something which is down to quality, reliability, whatever else, usage? I don't know yet," he admitted. "But I think it's no doubt that when you've got so many reliability problems, there is a concern.

"In terms of performance, the redesign of the full power unit, we made a fantastic job," he insisted. "But that means as well that overall, in terms of product, there is still very little experience and certainly I think in terms of reliability, still there is progress which is required."

"I am more than frustrated, obviously," said Leclerc. "The first stint in the beginning, we weren't particularly strong, but towards the end of the stint on the medium I was catching back Checo and then obviously there was the VSC, and we decided to take that opportunity to pit, and I think it was the right choice.

"We were in the lead of the race," he sighed, "I was managing the tyres well, we just had to manage the tyres and the race till the end, which I think we were definitely in the best position possible to do that.

"Another DNF... it hurts... we really need to look into that for it to not happen again."

Asked if the result was significant for the championship, the youngster hit back: "It's more than a significant... I don't really have the words to be honest. I came straight from the car to here. It is just a huge disappointment and I just hope we can jump back from it, and to be on top of those things."

"The hydraulics went, and that was it," added teammate Sainz. "Even more frustrated to see Charles not finishing the race and having another issue.

"For sure it's a tough day for Ferrari, a tough day for all of us but we are a team, we will go through different moments in the year, and this one is probably one of the most difficult and frustrating, but we will try and make sure we recover.

"Reliability hasn't been that bad," he added, "but it's getting momentum, and trying to have consecutive races clean this year, it's been impossible.

"The DNF comes in Lap 9 and I'm still looking to get laps, get knowledge from the car," adds the Spaniard, "it is very difficult, and so far the 2022 season has decided to go this way for me and it's frustrating. It's extremely frustrating, but we will have to recover this and we will need to stay patient and positive."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Baku, here.

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Published: 13/06/2022
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