Berger: Monaco criticism of Ferrari went too far

Jon Wilde
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc swaps full wet tyres for intermediates. Monaco May 2022

Gerhard Berger thinks Ferrari should be cut some slack for their Monaco Grand Prix strategy faux pas that cost Charles Leclerc a probable win.

In a race that had its start delayed due to heavy rain and took place on a drying track, confusion reigned at Ferrari regarding pole-sitter and early leader Leclerc’s progression from full wets to slick tyres.

The local hero, who grew up in Monaco, made a stop for intermediate tyres on lap 18 at the same time as his World Championship rival Max Verstappen.

But only three laps later, Leclerc was called in to the pits again for slicks in a double stack behind his team-mate Carlos Sainz, who had skipped the inters and made his own call to stay out on the extreme wets until that point.

A mix-up with conflicting instructions over the team radio exacerbated the situation and consequently Leclerc found himself behind not only Sainz but the two Red Bulls.

Sergio Perez went on to win ahead of Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc, who now trails the defending World Champion by nine points.

It was anything but Ferrari’s finest hour on a day when Leclerc had hoped to end his home race jinx – he had never previously reached the chequered flag in F1 or F2 – with a victory.

But Berger, who raced for the Scuderia in two spells comprising a total of six seasons, winning five grands prix for them, thinks the embarrassing episode should be put into context alongside the team’s huge improvement this season amid the new era of F1 regulations.

“Ferrari are being criticised too much for the tactical mistakes last Sunday,” the Austrian told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We should really congratulate Mattia Binotto for the strong car he has managed to put on the track because we hadn’t expected that just a few months ago.”

Whereas Monaco was deeply disappointing for Leclerc, it served as a confidence booster for Sainz after a tough spell that followed his strong start to the campaign – by finishing runner-up, he achieved his fourth podium finish of 2022.

“After seven rounds, Sainz is still dreaming of the World Championship and rightly so – he is not far from the top, don’t discount him,” added Berger.

“Overall, Ferrari have recovered and in Monaco had the better car. Second and fourth is no disaster.”

 

Sainz is fifth in the Drivers’ standings, 42 points behind leader Verstappen, while Ferrari have drifted to 36 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.

 

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