Ferrari have arrested their woeful lack of form in the last two rounds in Silverstone and Austria – at least partially.
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have, between them, claimed each of the last two races for the Scuderia, but they have – as is typical – done things the hard way.
An almost inexplicable strategic decision from the team under a late Safety Car cost Leclerc the win at the British Grand Prix, before Sainz claimed his maiden win at the 150th attempt.
Things were hardly plain sailing in Spielberg either; both Ferraris had a pace advantage over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen heading into the sprint race, but they spent the first part of the 23-lap dash fighting each other, allowing the Dutchman to escape up the road and stroll to victory.
“The important thing is that we are both in the fight and we will try our best to beat Max,” said team boss Mattia Binotto after the sprint.
Red Bull adviser Dr Helmut Marko ridiculed his rivals after strategic errors and reliability failures had cost them victory in Spain, Monaco, Baku, and arguably Canada before the circus rolled into Silverstone.
“They have been handicapping themselves for five races, either through technology or tactics,” said the Austrian.
“They were very close today, so it was lucky for us that they fought each other.
“We accept that with slight astonishment but gratitude.”
Leclerc went on to beat Verstappen in the race after Ferrari played it smart at the beginning of the afternoon, with Sainz holding back to allow his team-mate to attack the reigning champion.
The Monegasque had successfully cleared his fellow 24-year-old for the third time following a wonderful strategical battle between the teams, and it looked for all the world as though Sainz was about to pounce and make it a one-two.
However, something simply had to go wrong in keeping with the season so far – and it certainly did.
The Spaniard pulled off to the side of the racetrack with an inferno developing in the back of his car following a massive engine blowout and, just like that, he joined Red Bull’s Sergio Perez on the list of non-finishers after the Mexican was hit by George Russell on the opening lap.
Nicholas Latifi joined them too after a problem developed with his Williams, and there was trouble brewing on the other side of the Ferrari garage as well.
Leclerc began to struggle with a throttle issue, and the noisy pedal was stuck at “20-30 percent,” making for an extremely uncomfortable experience for the Monegasque.
He would eventually hold on to claim his third win of 2022, but Binotto could not even watch the final few laps after the issue with his car developed.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he told Sky Sports when asked what was wrong.
“I heard about it, we looked at the data but we need to wait for the car, try to work what was it, was it mechanical? Myself? I stopped watching the race at that time.”
The Italian confirmed that he had not even been looking at the timing screens because of the nerves, but there was relief at Maranello when Leclerc took the win.
Of course, there have been mixed emotions in the Ferrari camp in the last two weekends, as euphoria for one driver clashes with heartbreak for the other.
However, a win is a win, and taking victory twice in a row for the first time in nearly three years is a welcome string of results for the team that had watched Red Bull win the previous six grand prix before Silverstone.
“Certainly very happy because now it’s two wins in a row at Silverstone and now here in Austria,” added Binotto.
“It was important for us to recover, it was important for us to come back after let me say a few races where we’re not winning.
“We’ve got the potential and obviously happy for the win, a bit disappointed I would say for the failure on Carlos because it could have been even a better Sunday today.”
Leclerc has now moved to second in the Drivers’ Standings above Perez, while Ferrari have closed the gap to Red Bull to 56 points in the constructors’ battle.