Formula 1’s German pundits didn’t pull their punches after Ferrari once again had only themselves to blame for losing a double podium finish at the French Grand Prix.
Ferrari were praised after qualifying at the Paul Ricard circuit as the Italian team used strategy, and a tow from Carlos Sainz, to help Charles Leclerc to pole position.
They quickly went from heroes to villains.
Leclerc crashed out of the lead on Sunday, the Monégasque driver falling 63-points behind Max Verstappen as he binned his car at Turn 11, the driver holding up his hand.
That left Sainz, using an alternate strategy to his rivals given his back-of-the-grid start for engine penalties, to fly the flag for Ferrari.
He did it very well, attacking Sergio Perez for third place only for Ferrari to tell him to “box, Carlos, box” while he was in the midst of the fight.
Taking third, he then pitted, falling all the way to ninth from where he recovered to P5.
Ralf Schumacher summed it up to Sky Germany: “The greatest support for Red Bull in the World Championship is called Ferrari.”
What a show Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez put on for us! 🍿
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2022
But while Leclerc initially screamed “throttle” as the problem, the driver later held up his hand and admitted to a driver error.
One unnamed former head of motorsport told F1-Insider he’s not so sure: “Normally, the first reaction on the pit radio is always the real one.”
That’s a sentiment that former driver Nico Hulkenberg agrees with.
“It was a bit strange . Maybe he also wants to protect Ferrari,” he told Servus TV.
Fellow German Nico Rosberg reckons Leclerc admitted responsibility too quickly, the 2016 World Champion convinced something must have gone wrong with the car.
“I really think it’s premature of him to take the blame,” he told Sky Sports.
“He needs to go back now because it’s really very unusual for that to happen in the way it did because you’re not even pushing to the maximum there, you’re saving tyres.
“And also, what was happening with the engine there? It only takes a little bit of a cut or something that can kick out the rear.
“I really think they need to take some time to look at that because I still can’t believe that it would be a driver mistake.”
As for Ferrari’s call to pit Sainz, Hulkenberg was baffled by that.
“The whole thing isn’t rocket science, but rather easy to see – even from the outside and also from Carlos even while driving,” he said.
Rosberg agrees. “What the hell are they doing there? I shake my head again at the Ferrari strategists. Carlos was in the middle of a big fight on the track and the whole team isn’t watching because they’re so busy doing their strategy calculations. It’s time they made some serious changes.”
Highlights from the French Grand Prix
Did Max Verstappen win the French Grand Prix, or did Ferrari and Charles Leclerc throw it away? Probably a bit of both.