Formula 1

Formula 1 season: Ferrari’s battle for second place is getting worse

Formula One, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Charles Leclerc (Image courtesy of Jose Hernandez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.) ) Ferrari’s battle for second place in the Formula One world constructor championship has never been clearer than it is now. Last Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring was the second consecutive Formula 1 race in which Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won and Mercedes claimed a double podium with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Ferrari’s 2022 season has been marked by errors, and errors have resulted in these results in both races. Charles Leclerc crashed from the lead in the French Grand Prix, giving him three retirements while leading races this season. Then, in the Hungarian Grand Prix, a huge strategy blunder dropped Leclerc from a potential race-winning position to sixth. It’s no secret that Ferrari, along with Red Bull, still has a top two car. With twice as many pole positions and quite a few potential race wins squandered due to driver error, strategy error, or lack of reliability, it’s probably not a stretch to say that the Scuderia has the fastest package on the grid. However, a resurgent Mercedes continues to exploit the Italian team’s flaws, and they are catching up to them. In the constructor standings, Ferrari now trails Red Bull by 97 points, while Mercedes is only 30 points behind in second place. For much of the season, Mercedes has been nowhere near the top two teams. Even now, it would be a stretch to say they’ve “caught up.” But they’ve spent the entire year picking up the pieces. Aside from Russell’s DNF at Silverstone and Hamilton’s poor performances in Jeddah and Imola, the Silver Arrows haven’t had a truly bad race all year. Their car is the most reliable on the grid, and it finishes where it should finish every race — assuming, of course, that one or both Ferraris and/or one or both Red Bulls are unable to compete due to unforeseen circumstances. But here’s where things go from bad to worse for Ferrari. As if the Tifosi needed another reason to despair after two consecutive losses to end the season’s pre-summer break stretch, here it is: In each of the last 11 races — the most recent race, the last two races, the last three races, the last four races, the last five races, the last six races, the last seven races, the last eight races, the last nine races, the last ten races, and the last 11 races — Mercedes is second only to Red Bull. What’s the bottom line? They are, in fact, catching up. What’s good for Ferrari? They can absolutely make a difference simply by not making unforced errors week after week. The disadvantage? They have yet to demonstrate that they can do it more than one race at a time — and even then, they almost always find new ways to blow it.