Scuderia Ferrari had managed to be in fight for victory against Red Bull in most races during the 2022 Formula 1 season so far and at times the F1-75 even proved slightly faster than the RB18, but the Belgian Grand Prix was a wakeup call for the Maranello team: Ferrari had no chance at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, as Red Bull secured an easy one-two finish and for the first time in 2022, the Italian side had no response to their opponents’ pure speed and pace.
2021 Formula 1 world champion started the Belgian Grand Prix from P14 on the grid due to power unit-related penalties, but still managed to secure the race win by more than 17 seconds from his teammate, leading home a Red Bull 1-2 finish which basically puts an end to Ferrari’s hopes of challenging for the 2022 F1 world titles.
Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz struggled with tyre degradation during the Spa race and were not able to match Red Bull at any stage of the race, regardless of the tyre compound. One clear example is the fact that Max Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race on lap 32, while Charles Leclerc’s last attempt, despite made with low fuel and fresh soft tyres, was still 0.6s slower than the Dutchman’s benchmark. Carlos Sainz eventually saved at least a podium finish for Ferrari, but ended up 26 seconds off Max Verstappen, while Charles Leclerc, who also started from the back due to several penalties for new engine components, finished a lowly sixth. The Monegasque driver’s race was made even more difficult by a visor tear-off that got stuck in his brake duct on lap 1, which led to an early pit stop.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto was inevitably asked about the Maranello team’s poor race pace and if the hope was that the performance was just track-specific and an outlier for Ferrari: “I don’t think there is any hope in that” – Mattia Binotto replied – “It has been a true difference between us and the Red Bulls this weekend. If I look back, I think they have been slightly faster in Hungary, which has been a different kind of track, high downforce. So overall, I think simply today, the Red Bull is a faster car compared to what we’ve got in terms of overall efficiency, because Spa is where you need efficiency in terms of the aerodynamics and power unit. But more than that, we have as well a lot of tyre degradation that we need to look into. They have been stronger as well in terms of tyre degradation. So I don’t think it has been an outlier. They are faster to us than what I am hoping.” – the Ferrari boss explained after the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Spa result doesn’t leave Ferrari much to hope for in the second part of the season: Charles Leclerc is now third in the Drivers standings ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix, almost 100 points behind Max Verstappen, while Red Bull further increased its advantage to 118 points in the constructors’ standings, with 8 races until the end of the season.
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Charles Leclerc admitted before leaving Spa that it is now “extremely difficult” to believe in a comeback given the huge gaps, but Mattia Binotto still remained confident the big gap to the Austrian side at Spa was not a sign of things to come.
“Certainly the gap we have seen today is not the gap we will have in the next races. I think Spa is always amplifying the gaps because it is a long track, and whenever you’ve got a slight advantage on efficiency, normally it’s amplified and very obvious on such a circuit. So yes, we hope to be back in the next races to be closer. I still believe they have got a slightly faster car. But tyre degradation has been I think the most as well element affecting the performance of today. We need to understand it and try to address it as soon as possible, because it will be important as well for the next races.” – Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto concluded.
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