Russian F1 commentator Alexander Popov has criticised Ferrari amid the disintegration of their title challenge this season.
The Scuderia started the season in spectacular fashion as Charles Leclerc led home Carlos Sainz for a one-two finish in Bahrain, before the Monegasque again took victory in round three in Melbourne.
Both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez suffered late reliability failures in Bahrain, before the same fate befell the Dutchman again in Australia, so it looked like a tremendous season ahead for the Italian side.
However, Red Bull brought their first major upgrade to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, and they went on to take victory in the following six rounds of the year.
During that time, Ferrari seemed to have few answers for the Austrian side’s race pace despite taking four pole positions through Charles Leclerc and, when they did, everything seemed to go wrong.
A mixture of strategic errors and reliability failures denied Leclerc multiple victories, and the engine penalty he picked up for the Canadian Grand Prix ultimately rendered him unable to compete for the win there too.
It looked as though the Maranello-based side were back on the right track after wins in Silverstone and Austria but, even then, they were denied maximum points due to a bizarre Safety Car call that saw Leclerc finish fourth in Silverstone, before Sainz’s engine blew out in Spielberg.
Last time out in France, Leclerc put it in the wall while leading, before the pit wall showed indecisiveness while deciding how Sainz should serve his five-second penalty as he finished fifth having started 19th after himself taking engine penalties.
Ferrari have stressed this season that their aim is to fight at the front rather than specifically to win championship, and Popov affirms that they are not in a position to do the latter right now.
“They put everything they could into the 2022 car and they succeeded,” he said.
“But they are not ready to fight for the title, Ferrari manages to mess up everything – engines, tactics, driver errors and so on in a circle.”
The Russian is concerned by the fact that the Italian side have opened themselves up for ridicule this year, and asserts that stronger leadership is needed.
“I don’t know how you can fight for a title like that and it’s not so scary when you’re criticised, but it’s scary for them to be laughed at,” added Popov.
“It’s impossible to imagine this in the days of Jean Todt and Ross Brawn.”
Verstappen leads Leclerc by 63 points in the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull hold an 82-point advantage over Ferrari in the teams’ fight.