Ferrari accused of ‘protecting something’

Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas separated the Ferraris in qualifying at the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix.

Ferrari have let themselves be drawn into a last-gasp battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship with Mercedes, after a woeful performance at last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Going into the weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the Italians lead over the Germans was beautifully comfortable; however, after Ferrari endured a poor five-six finish, whereas Mercedes sealed a two-four, the Brackley-based team are right back in the fight.

With just the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix remaining, 40 points separate the two, with Mercedes seemingly with the momentum going into Sao Paulo.

Ferrari weren’t “at the races” in Mexico City, with ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle believing that the Scuderia were “clearly protecting something”, with it believed that the team opted to turn their power units down.

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Both Ferrari drivers ended the race a minute or more behind victor Max Verstappen, which just didn’t sit right with the current Sky Sports F1 pundit.

“The main intrigue was that both Red Bulls were on used soft tyres and both Mercedes were on new medium tyres on the grid, and for a while as the Red Bull tyres began to cry enough it appeared that Mercedes could run much longer at a reasonable pace and seize the initiative,” Brundle wrote in his Sky Sports column.

“Meanwhile Ferrari were simply not at the races, they didn’t have the pace despite having large amounts of downforce attached and were clearly protecting something at this 7200 ft-altitude circuit as they were destined to finish a minute behind.”

Many wondered if the Italians had turned the engines on the F1-75s down before it was hinted at by Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto, as the Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas had strong straight-line speed at the venue.

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“It must be said the Ferrari power unit in Bottas’ Alfa Romeo was relatively flying along nicely,” Brundle noted, “although he would ultimately have been disappointed with only one championship point in 10th from sixth on the grid.”

Ferrari have endured power unit reliability issues throughout the year, with Charles Leclerc having suffered two failures this season just while leading.

READ: Red Bull launch investigation after Mexican Grand Prix

Leclerc suffered a power unit failure at the Spanish and Azerbaijan Grand Prix, both of which he was at the front of.

Carlos Sainz also suffered a power unit failure whilst in third at the Austrian Grand Prix, highlighting the Maranello-based team’s engine frailty.

Another failure could fully open the door for Mercedes to claim second; however, the race in Brazil will likely suit the Scuderia much better.