Slapstick is always a great thing. Whether it's in the movies or in real life, you'll have the laughs on your side with a well-done prat act. An almost classic performance, albeit involuntary, happened to Ferrari's Formula 1 team over the weekend. When Carlos Sainz came to the pits on lap 16 to get a fresh set of tires at the race in Zandvoort in the Netherlands, the mechanics only had three tires ready. They simply forgot the fourth. Only after a moment of shock does a mechanic rush out of the garage and balance the tire in the right place. The stop lasts longer than expected, around 13 seconds instead of the usual almost three seconds.
The loss of time that Ferrari suffers as a result of the breakdown is immense. Ten seconds is half an eternity in Formula 1. Even at an early stage, ten superfluous seconds can spoil the race (Mick Schumacher also experienced this painfully in Zandvoort). In the end, Sainz ended up in eighth place, having started third. After all, teammate Charles Leclerc made it to third place, but the young Monegasse had also lost a place compared to the starting grid.
The Ferraris were again powerless against overriding Max Verstappen in the Red Bull. Verstappen raced to his tenth victory in the 15th race, the world title is almost impossible to take away from him. He leads the classification with over a hundred points. Ferrari was faster at the beginning of the season. Leclerc was in front in the drivers' standings, but then everything went wrong. The Ferrari team made mistake after mistake, strategically and technically, like the pit stop in Holland. Ferrari has robbed itself of every title opportunity in outrageous ways.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix, the team switched to hard tires at the leading Leclerc, which made the Ferrari driver easy prey for the Verstappen behind. A grotesque misjudgment. At the race in Le Castellet, France, Leclerc was again in the lead, but made a driving mistake and slipped into the safety cushions. These are just two examples from a long chain of failures over the past few months.
The rate among the Italians is so high that they only shake their heads in the paddock. The oldest and most important team in Formula 1 has become the laughing stock in the paddock.
The attacked Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto answered Rosberg directly: "We will not change people, this is a direct answer to Rosberg." After all, "stability is so important in Formula 1. We have great people on the team, we're a great team. I have no doubt about that," he dismissed. His explanation for the botched tire change sounded less convincing: The call for a tire change was said to have come late, also because the laps were so short. That sounds rather desperate.
Meanwhile, the first rumors have surfaced that Jean Todt is returning to power and replacing Binotto. Todt is 76 years old, shaped the great and title-rich time as team boss with Michael Schumacher and was president of the world motorsport association Fia in between. Whether Todt solves the diverse problems of the Scuderia is another matter.
The current crisis is particularly painful because Ferrari seemed to have a real shot at the title this season for the first time since 2007. Basically, Ferrari has never been really dominant since Michael Schumacher's last world title in 2004. In 2007, the Italians won the world title with Kimi Räikkönen for the last time, albeit with a lot of luck: Fernando Alonso and a very young Lewis Hamilton neutralized each other at Mercedes-McLaren in a poisonous competition.
As a result, the Italians mostly got in their own way. Top drivers such as Alonso or Sebastian Vettel regularly failed later during their time at Scuderia due to vanity, negligence and the special Ferrari spirit. At the end of his Ferrari commitment, Vettel made numerous mistakes, also because he had lost the support of the team. Only once did the Reds drive away in front in the past few years. But then it turned out that the increase in speed was due to a forbidden technical manipulation.
Ferrari made great strides again under Binotto. They mastered the latest technology revolution better than Mercedes, who lost their dominance. But what remained was the tendency to make mistakes. Ferrari wanted to go for the title this season, which seemed realistic at the beginning. Now that's just wishful thinking. Now the home race in Monza is coming up in the crisis. If the team fails there too, heads are likely to roll.
Sources: "motorsport-total", "Süddeutsche Zeitung", "sport1.de", "Spiegel"