Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel’s second place finish in Monaco put an end to Mercedes’ impressive run of 1-2 finishes in the start of the 2019 Formula One season, but it was a mere consolation for the Maranello team, as Lewis Hamilton won and Valtteri Bottas was third. One reporter joked that the dominant team had therefore entered a crisis, and boss Toto Wolff played along: “Yes, and I assume full responsibility.”
The actual crisis, according to the Italian media, is at Ferrari. That crisis took another step forward in Monaco, with a basic strategy mistake that saw local driver Charles Leclerc stranded down the grid after qualifying: “These things can’t happen at Ferrari,” said Umberto Zapelloni, who writes for La Gazzetta dello Sport. – “It can’t happen when you have a hundred engineers in front of computers, but perhaps it is because they think like nerds and don’t race like men.” – he wrote.
2016 world champion Nico Rosberg said after Monaco that Ferrari “must make changes in personnel”. Team boss Mattia Binotto denied that, but Italian sources report that changes are in fact now being made behind the scenes at Ferrari.
Corriere della Sera said top engineers Alessandro Cinelli and Giacomo Tortora have been shuffled out of their respective positions. Marco Adurno has received a promotion. Mattia Binotto’s bosses John Elkann and Louis Camilleri have also reportedly approved a bigger budget to update the car’s front suspension without affecting the rest of the programme.
“Mattia Binotto has my full support, and I am sure he will find a solution,” said CEO Camilleri.
But even amid the reactions, there are rumours of more serious trouble at Ferrari. An Italian source claims relations between Charles Leclerc and Ferrari’s respective management teams have hit a worrying low. Mattia Binotto said after Monaco that Charles Leclerc overdid his charge from the back of the pack in Monaco, but Corriere della Sera said the youngster “raced with a rage that was more than justified”. “This championship is over for Ferrari,” the newspaper continued. “Everything else is boring stories. We need to plan for the future, relying on Leclerc’s motivation, intellect and skill.”
For his part, and even amid the rumours of a breakdown in relations with Ferrari, Charles Leclerc vowed to move on: “Just moving on,” he answered when asked how he will react after the disappointment of his home race. I cannot change what happened, so it makes no sense to continue thinking about it. We need to continue to work with the confidence that the next weekend will be better,” said Leclerc.
Finally, former Ferrari boss Jean Todt backed the Maranello team to bounce back eventually: “The team is very strong and the car is competitive,” the FIA president told Rai radio – “Perhaps a little salt and pepper is missing in the recipe, but I am sure they will succeed.” – the former Ferrari boss concluded.