Ferrari, Leclerc alarm: now the real team man exam

The last few races have undermined the certainties of the Monegasque To still believe in the title, Ferrari must return to the top. Reliability will be a handicap in the world championship race But his future remains in Maranello

Luigi Perna

– Milan

The Baku mission has failed. In front of the Ferrari there is now an appointment in Montreal that already tastes like a last resort. The five consecutive defeats, starting from Imola, left their mark: Max Verstappen and Red Bull took the lead in the drivers and constructors standings, while Charles Leclerc saw four pole positions go up in smoke and finds himself 34 points from the top . The team’s wrong strategy cost them the triumph in Monte Carlo. The power unit instead left him on foot in Spain and Azerbaijan. A series of missed opportunities that would have demolished anyone’s morale. On Sunday, after the double retirement of him and Carlos Sainz, the Monegasque seemed disheartened, even if the team principal Mattia Binotto reassured that he had spoken to him and had seen a motivated and involved driver in the project.

the head

It is not difficult to put yourself in Leclerc’s shoes and imagine what the young Ferrari talent is going through. The victory at his debut in Bahrain and the encore in Australia had perhaps also deluded him, making him believe that it could be the year of the turning point. The machine, born of the new regulations, was very fast and reliable. The Red Bulls stopped for various problems. The wind seemed to have given the Cavallino wings. Then the parties turned upside down. The red remained competitive, but found herself extremely fragile, and this weakness threatens to be a handicap in Canada and for the rest of the season as well. Therefore, it is mentally difficult for Leclerc to maintain the conviction and focus he has had up to now. If last year he could smile, finding reasons for optimism even when the redhead finished a minute behind Mercedes and Red Bull, because we had to grow, now it can’t be the same thing. There is a risk that Charles will lose his bite. A bit like what is happening to Lewis Hamilton, used to fighting for the World Championship and now struggling to express his best with a disappointing Mercedes. It must absolutely be avoided. That’s why Binotto stressed the importance of keeping the team together, avoiding the danger of a negative spiral. There has been no lack of examples in the past, starting from 2017 and 2018, when Sebastian Vettel fought for the title in Hamilton with epilogues to forget.

maturity

Leclerc’s performance level this year has been very high. He is mister pole position, with 6 centers out of 8 qualifying, and in the race he has always had an impressive pace, dueling on a par with the world champion Verstappen, that is, his most aggressive rival. The only mistake he made was in Imola, when he crashed into the Variante Gresini for too much enthusiasm, in an attempt to snatch second place from Sergio Perez. The Monegasque has shown that he has made a leap compared to the apprenticeship seasons, in which he had been the protagonist of formidable feats such as the victories at Spa and Monza in 2019, but also of a few too many mistakes. The maturity with which he has managed the hottest situations is the sign of his growth, now complete. Staying calm in this critical moment will be a further “team man” exam, to be more and more Ferrari’s leader.

alternatives

There are no alternatives on the horizon. The future of Leclerc, who has a contract until 2024, seems inevitably linked to the redhead, also due to the presence of manager Nicolas Todt. Red Bull already has its number one, given that Verstappen is armored until 2028, and coexistence between the two would be impossible. While Mercedes, today in crisis, is ready to bet on Russell for the post-Hamilton. So you have to grit your teeth, suffer and believe in it. Ferrari is back at the top in terms of performance and could become the car to beat from 2023 if it finds reliability. Meanwhile…



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