1978 Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti has given his opinion on the 2022 World Championship and Max Verstappen’s probable second crown, which he believes has been “handed” to him by Ferrari’s strategic errors.
It is incredible to think that Verstappen leads Charles Leclerc by 116 points in the Drivers’ Championship, despite Leclerc having won two of the opening three races.
The Ferrari driver even had a 40-point-lead in the standings earlier in the year; however, that was quickly obliterated by the imperious Dutchman.
After retiring from two of the first three races, Verstappen has gone on to win 10 of the last 13 races, meaning he has 11 race victories to his name so far this season.
He’s only two wins away from matching Sebastian Vettel’s and Michael Schumacher’s joint record of 13 wins in a single season, something the 24-year-old could eclipse at the Japanese Grand Prix if he wins this weekend at Singapore.
The Dutchman could retain his title at the Marina Bay Circuit this weekend, should the result go his way.
If Verstappen wins and claims the fastest lap, then Leclerc must finish in the top eight, or Sergio Pérez must finish in the top four to stop the World Champion from becoming a double World Champion.
Andretti believes Verstappen has “proven” his worth once again; however, believes Ferrari have “handed” him the title through their countless strategic errors.
“[Max] has proven again, how worthy he is of the World Championship,” Andretti told PlanetF1.
“A lot of it is thanks to Ferrari in so many ways – Ferrari have been so competitive, and they handed to him on a plate.
“He still would be in control, in my opinion, but it was really handed to him. It’s always great to see Ferrari come back and be able to fight but they’ve made so many strategic mistakes on tyres and so forth – it’s unbelievable.”
Ferrari have proven throughout the season that they have a car capable of beating Red Bull; however, their strategic errors have seen Leclerc especially miss out on a number of wins.
Whilst Andretti believes Red Bull have done a “phenomenal job”, the Italian-American has been left perplexed by some of the Maranello-based team’s “really, really weird” strategies.
“Ferrari certainly have the drivers and the car,” he added.
“Both Charles and Carlos are capable of winning and the car has been consistently competitive- they’ve shown they have the pace in qualifying, the race pace, but Max and Red Bull have just been going on their merry way.
“Red Bull have done a phenomenal job, no question, and right now it looks like Max will be World Champion with several races left in the season.
“There were clear mistakes made on Ferrari’s strategies. They’ve had a couple of mechanical situations, which is unfortunate – that can happen to anyone.
“Just that, sometimes, their choice of tyres has been really, really weird. With a car that’s so competitive, they don’t have to have a strategy that’s different from everyone else.
“Just try to go with the same with what the others are going and you’re going to be in good shape because they can hold their own. It seem like they just threw away a lot of opportunities, in my opinion. Even Charles expressed himself several times how disappointed he was.
“I don’t know how the situation works within the team, whether the drivers can have some more voice in their choices. I don’t know how that works. But whoever is dictating the strategy is not doing a very good job.”