Such was Ferrari’s list of mistakes last season, Max Verstappen joked having a dry race with more strategies available meant there’d be more opportunities for the Scuderia to “f**k up”.
Although it was suggested early last season that Ferrari’s F1-75 was the car to beat, their title campaign was over even before the midway point of the season as they threw in strategy mistake after reliability issue after driver crash.
In the two races leading up to the Belgian Grand Prix alone, Charles Leclerc crashed out of the lead in France while in Hungary the team opted to put the Monégasque driver, who was once again leading a race, onto the hard Pirellis even though none of their rivals were able to get the tyre to work. He fell to P6.
In both instances Verstappen was gifted an easy route to the victory. It’s no wonder he joked about Ferrari’s mistakes in the build-up to the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.
Checking the weather on his phone on the eve of the Spa-Francorchamps race weekend, the Red Bull driver said on camera aired in the ‘Max Verstappen, Anatomy Of A Champion’ documentary: “Rain Friday, Saturday.”
Asked if it’s “better if it’s wet, no?”, he replied: “More chaos.
“But in the dry, Ferrari has more options to f*ck up the strategies.”
As it happened Ferrari didn’t mess up that weekend, they just didn’t have the pace to match a rampant Verstappen.
Although Verstappen and Leclerc started the race near the back of the grid for exceeding their quota of power unit elements, P14 and 15 respectively, Verstappen was able to race his way to the top step of the podium.
Such was the pace of his RB18, he won the race by 17.841s ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez while Leclerc, who had to make an unscheduled pit stop to remove a visor tear-off from his right front brake duct, was P6.
As for Carlos Sainz, he started from pole position but fell to third.
The Belgian Grand Prix was just one more disappointment in a long list of tough races for Ferrari that season with the Scuderia blighted by strategy blunders, reliability issues and a few crashes from both drivers.
In sharp contrast, that Sunday marked Verstappen’s ninth of 14 race wins that year, the Dutchman taking the title in Japan with four races to spare.