‘Tension in the air’ at Ferrari after challenging Brazilian Grand Prix

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc looking at Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz speaking with the media as Charles Leclerc waits his turn.

Failing to make the starting grid twice in the last four races, Formula E development driver Alice Powell believes the Scuderia’s reliability issues are creating “tension” with the drivers.

Carlos Sainz wasn’t able to take his place on the grid at the Qatar Grand Prix after being ruled out through a fuel leak while his teammate Charles Leclerc crashed on the formation lap of the Brazilian GP, that blamed on a hydraulic issue.

That cost Ferrari in the championship as Leclerc showed good pace around the Interlagos circuit and was set to line up second on the grid.

Ferrari have lost valuable points through reliability issues

He, though, wasn’t the only Ferrari driver troubled in Brazil with Sainz urging Ferrari after the race to “bin” his clutch having made a poor start that saw him lose several places.

The Spaniard voiced his complaints over the radio but was told by his race engineer to keep his thoughts to himself until they could be discussed in private.

It’s an issue that Powell says Ferrari have to resolve as the long list of problems that have befallen Ferrari this season are creating “tension” with the drivers.

Speaking on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast, Powell said: “So Leclerc, obviously, at first when I saw it, I thought, ‘oh, no, Charles, you just spun off warming up your tyres’.

“And that’s what it looked like at first until we got that radio message through him saying, ‘I’ve got a hydraulic failure guys’, which caused him to obviously lose the rear, spin off into the tyre barriers. He did sort of get out and pull the car off to a safe place.

“But yeah, Ferrari have lost a car before the start twice in the last four Grands Prix. Obviously, Qatar was Carlos Sainz, I think it was the fuel leak.

“So there always seems to be something with Ferrari that they do a good job, they get themselves on the front row, but then there always seems to be something that happens, whether it be Sainz on the radio saying, ‘right, we need to sort this clutch out’. And his engineer was like, ‘Okay, let’s not discuss this now please’.

“Again, there’s a bit of tension there in the air. But it just seems whether they have a bad pit stop, tyre deg is bad, that driver struggles to get off the line for whatever reason, or the car breaks down.

“It just seems to be one of those things that hinders their race and scoring the maximum points that they’re able to achieve.”

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Should Fred Vasseur have steadied the Ferrari ship by now?

Third in the championship where they are a whopping 420 points behind Red Bull Racing, Ferrari’s season has been one to forget with the SF-23 no match for the rampant RB19.

With only one win on the board compared to last year’s four, it could be argued that this season has been worse than last year, which ended with team boss Mattia Binotto stepping down to be replaced by Fred Vasseur.

It begs the question shouldn’t Vasseur have resolved Ferrari’s reliability issues by now?

“I think when that question was posed at the start of the season. I think everybody was saying, ‘We can’t judge until the earliest halfway through the year’,” said commentator Harry Benjamin.

“But you’ve got to remember that Ferrari is Ferrari, and they have a unique way of doing things.

“And Fred Vasseur is a brilliant character to have in the paddock as well. And that is a breath of fresh air for Ferrari as well. Like he’s funny, he’s laid back, he’s relaxed, and he’s very successful as well in his junior career.

“A lot of jobs in F1 seemed a bit like poisoned chalices. But the Ferrari team principal is probably up on that list as well.

“I think still, it is too early. I think next year is when you can start to judge Fred. Because of the nature of this season, the Ferrari car is pretty fast but reliability at the moment is slightly worrying.”

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