Ferrari has practically nothing left to fight for in the remainder of the 2022 Formula 1 season. After the victories of Charles Leclerc in Bahrain and Australia, the first two rounds of the course, the expectations were very high, but with four races remaining to close the curtain on the campaign, their chances of winning the drivers’ championship are over and in the constructors’ it looks like they will have to end the year looking more backwards than first after an alarming foul of reliability and continuous errors .
Before the summer break, team principal Mattia Binotto said there was “no reason” to think the Scuderia couldn’t win all the remaining races. Now, the question is whether a Ferrari driver will climb to the top of the podium again in the four remaining rounds of the season, something perhaps a little easier after Max Verstappen has been proclaimed world champion for the second year. consecutive.
The boss, the president of Ferrari , John Elkann , at least relieved some of the public pressure by stating that Binotto had his job secured: ” We have a lot of faith in Mattia and we really appreciate everything he and our engineers have done”, said.
” Giving our trust to Binotto and his team was the right decision and it has paid off.” Simultaneously, Elkann turned up the heat by adding that ” with Charles Leclerc on pole position”, Ferrari will “get” both titles before 2026 .
In the more technical section of the chassis and the engine, that seems quite plausible. The return of the famous ground effect has shown that Ferrari is capable of building a car that can fight for victories and achieve maximum glory in the championship, even if the Italian team was not operationally prepared to reach those goals.
As for the drivers, while Leclerc seems to be the great bet of those from Maranello to beat Red Bull and Verstappen, without a doubt Carlos Sainz is a kind of secret weapon.
As the number two driver of his team and with the minimum level of expectation that this role requires, Sergio Pérez has rightly been praised when compared to the performances of those who until now had been Verstappen’s teammates; Alexander Albon, Pierre Gasly, and Daniil Kvyat. Therefore, it is fair to also praise Sainz by analyzing his improvement in a similar role.
The Spanish driver started the year lacking chemistry with the F1-75, suffering above all with a very nervous rear end, acknowledging that he preferred the behavior of the 2021 car, much less competitive.
In the first four races, he was on average 0.59s slower in qualifying than his team-mate, who took three pole positions. A spin in the gravel in Australia, while Leclerc was leading, and a crash with Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap of the race at Imola, didn’t help either.
However, in this final stretch of the season it seems that everyone has agreed that Sainz has caught up . It’s true that some weekends haven’t ended the way they wanted, but pace-wise he and Leclerc are now a combination of drivers performing at a very similar level, second only to the Mercedes duo with Lewis Hamilton. and George Russell.
In recent races, the difference in the classification has always been very close and sometimes even favorable to Sainz, something that seemed impossible at the beginning of the course. And that, if they manage to keep it for the next few years, is a weapon within the reach of very few teams .
“I think it’s no secret that I’ve been a lot closer in terms of pace to one lap, and I’ve been able to fight for a lot more pole positions and make much better qualifying lately,” acknowledged the British GP winner, his only win to date. the date in Formula 1.
“And yes, the race pace is something that I want to improve or continue to improve, but at least the progress that I have made with the car with the help of my engineers, to feel a little more comfortable, trying to change the driving a little bit compared to what Charles did, with the aim of exploiting the car to the limit, has worked well”.
“I’m fighting a lot more and I’m in a much better position. My goal is to finish the season well, to try to put myself in a good position for next year.”
Of course, Sainz’s ambition is to prove that he can be Ferrari’s best driver and spearhead , ultimately to use it as a springboard to the title in motorsport’s top flight.
Regardless of whether that is realistic or not in the eyes of the spectators, what is undeniable is his progress, his enormous intelligence behind the wheel of the car (see the calculation of the pros and cons of the strategy during the races) and the cordial internal relationship that he and Leclerc have maintained since his arrival at the beginning of 2021. These factors could be the key that helps those in red achieve Elkann’s ambitious goals, something they have not achieved since 2008 as constructors and since 2007 with some of its drivers, in fact, the now retired Kimi Raikkonen was the last to be crowned as a Ferrari driver… and it has already rained.
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