1996 Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill reckons that Ferrari lost their edge during their time away from competing for world championships.
There was confusion during the French Grand Prix on Carlos Sainz’s side of the garage when he was called into the pits while passing Sergio Perez, and this was to serve a five-second time penalty.
The Spaniard had started from the back of the grid after taking an engine penalty, and he made his way up into the top 10 when the Safety Car was deployed after team-mate Charles Leclerc crashed.
This forced Sainz, who had started on the Hards, to switch to Mediums but, as he was released from the pits, he exited right into the path of Alex Albon, earning himself a penalty.
With tyre wear being as harsh as it was in Le Castellet, the Scuderia had a choice as to whether they should send their driver to the end of the race or call him in to serve the penalty.
Having been corrected by the 27-year-old that the penalty was not strictly a stop-go, they left him out until he took third away from Sergio Perez, before eventually bringing him in.
He passed Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso to end the race P5, taking the fastest lap in the process, but it came after Ferrari were caught in two minds, arguably costing the Spaniard time.
Hill puts the indecision down to a necessity of “just sheer practice of being at the front.”
“I think they had been a little bit out of it last year,” he told Sky Sports.
“They weren’t terribly competitive and they kind of maybe got a bit lackadaisical in their race team mindset.
“Obviously all these teams are incredibly professional, but it just seems to me Red Bull seem to be able to think quickly and take opportunities.
“They have been used to fighting from the back and now they don’t have so much of that as a problem, but they still are a race team that are effective in the field, let’s say.”
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez extended Red Bull’s lead in the Constructors’ Standings as the Dutchman won the race, with Perez in fourth, so Hill asserted that Ferrari need to get a hold of themselves in the latter part of the season.
“I think they definitely need to take a look at themselves and say ‘well, what are we doing wrong?” he explained.
“We’ve got the car to do it, we’ve got the drivers to do I, but we need to give them back-up and we need to clarify our team instructions’.”
The Briton indicated that there needs to be an authoritative figure calling the right shots and the right time, else it is pointless to race at the front.
“When it comes to drivers talking to the pit wall and also to the strategy [team], it’s how they communicate with the drivers as to what the order of command is,” added Hill.
“Because you can’t have different people making different decisions and then changing their mind in the last minute, which is no good.”
Verstappen leads Leclerc by 63 points in the Drivers’ Standings, while Red Bull’s advantage over Ferrari is now 82.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto recently argued that there is “no reason why” his team cannot win all of the final 10 rounds of the season.