Monday, March 4, 2024

Summer Break Review – Scuderia Ferrari

It’s been an odd season to some up for Scuderia Ferrari. The Italian team sometimes find themselves challenging for front row starts with Oracle Red Bull Racing but the next weekend will find themselves limited to finishing just inside the top five.

Following on from 2022, Ferrari would’ve hoped to challenge for both titles, but it’s been a completely different story.

Leclerc or Sainz?

Charles Leclerc has solidified his status as one of the best qualifiers in the lineup. Despite consistently outperforming Carlos Sainz Jr. in their qualifying face-offs, it’s worth noting that Sainz has maintained a strong qualifying performance of his own. In fact, Sainz boasts a superior average qualifying position compared to Leclerc throughout this season.

Leclerc is one of two drivers to achieve a non Red Bull pole position this season – the other being Lewis Hamilton – which is an impressive stat. As well as that, he’s notched up four front-row starts this season, securing the second highest count on the grid, trailing only Max Verstappen.

Sainz’s has only a single front row start – a feat he achieved in Miami. Nevertheless, his consistency shines through, with the Spaniard only missing out on the top five on two occasions this season.

In terms of their race performance, the difference between the two narrows significantly, although Leclerc still maintains an edge over Sainz. Sainz beat Leclerc in five out of the first seven races.

In the lead-up to the summer break, Leclerc pulled back the record and crossed the finish line ahead of Sainz in five successive races. Sainz is yet to achieve a podium finish this season, while his teammate has three to his name.

A Tough Season for the Scuderia?

Entering the 2023 season, Ferrari carried championship hopes backed up by their second-place finish in 2022. However, their trajectory has taken a downturn, and they now reside lower in the championship, engaged in a battle for second place. Many may view it as a tough first twelve races for Ferrari but has it really been that bad?

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Italian team and that showed during the Friday and Saturday sessions of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend, as Leclerc orchestrated a remarkable display to clinch pole position for both the upcoming race on Sunday and the Baku Sprint event.

Leclerc commenced the weekend while holding onto his streak of consecutive pole positions in Baku from both 2021 and 2022, but it would be a tough challenge with Red Bull dominating the early races of the season. Coming into the race, Leclerc had been performing poorly, tallying a mere six points across the initial three races, so that battle was an upwards one for both him and Ferrari.

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

He magnificantly triumphed over both Verstappen and Sergio Pérez to secure pole position for the third year in a row.

Leclerc backed up his form on the Saturday too. Once again, Leclerc outshone the Red Bull drivers, claiming pole position for the 100KM dash. Remarkably, his initial time held strong, even as he encountered a collision with the barrier during his final attempt.

There has been multiple moments in 2023 that have shown promise for Ferrari. Their performances before the summer break will certainly give them confidence in the battle for second place in the Constructors Championship.

What’s Next for Ferrari?

Ferrari’s main aim for the rest of the season will be to outperform Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, Aston Martin Armco Cognisant F1 Team, and McLaren F1 Team in the Constructors’ Championship, as they look to secure second position.

While their current standing is fourth, the ever-shifting performances among these four teams this year show that it is possible Ferrari can finish above their competitors. Consistency will be extremely pivotal to uphold their title as last year’s runners-up.

In addition, Ferrari has demonstrated capability to challenge Red Bull in terms of single-lap pace at various tracks, with Leclerc’s standout pole position in Baku. This raises the question: could they translate this competitiveness into race distance, emerge triumphant and become the first team to beat Red Bull on track?

The memories of Ferrari challenging for both titles early in the 2022 season feel distant. With just ten races left in the current year, the team holds onto the hope of rekindling that level of performance, aiming to break Red Bull’s dominance.

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