With Charles Leclerc alone losing over 100 points because of Ferrari blunders, David Coulthard says the Ferrari drivers “must be losing the confidence” in the team.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix, Leclerc once again found himself falling off the podium when earlier in the race he had looked to be a sure bet for the top step.
Instead of listening to the driver who wanted a longer middle stint on his medium tyres, Ferrari covered Max Verstappen’s alternate strategy and put Leclerc on a set of hard tyres, tyres that no one was able to make work.
Easily overtaken by Verstappen and then George Russell, Ferrari pitted the driver for a third time to put him onto a set of softs.
But by then the deficit was so great he wasn’t able to recover even one place and he finished P6.
Coulthard was baffled.
They couldn’t believe their luck 😅 pic.twitter.com/LQTNaKR5T5
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) July 31, 2022
“They could have gone soft and accepted that was a short tyre, but at that time we were all wondering is the weather going to break?” he told Channel 4.
“Then it would have left them options thereafter, but in going on the same tyre again, we know they then have to go one direction or the other, and because of the length of the final stint, they’ve obviously thought the hard tyre is the way to go.
“But it wasn’t the way to go on Friday with higher track temperatures, 26c today [Sunday], as you get cooler conditions, that brings you out of the window of the hard tyre even more.
“So it’s almost like the strategy side of their team, has gone ‘well all the information we have tells us don’t do this, but actually we’re going to do this’.”
And as it was not the first time that the strategists have cost Leclerc, or Carlos Sainz, positions and points, the former driver says he wouldn’t be surprised if the two were losing faith in Ferrari’s decision-making.
“That’s the thing which is so unbelievable about it,” he continued, “and that’s where they may not have lost the driving ability of their drivers, but they must be losing the confidence.”
Ferrari’s mistakes have pretty much paved the way for Verstappen to romp to a second successive Drivers’ Championship as he is now 80 points ahead of Leclerc.
That means even if the Monégasque driver wins all nine remaining races, takes the fastest lap point and wins Brazil’s sprint race, if Verstappen is P2 in all of those, it is the Dutchman who will win the title.
Sunday’s result also meant Mercedes closed the gap on Ferrari to just 30 points, the Brackley squad bagging a second successive double podium.
Coulthard, though, admits they weren’t quite there yet when it comes to fighting Red Bull for race wins.
“They [Mercedes] got the result on merit,” he said, “they were quick in these cooler conditions. I think if we take ourselves back a week to warm conditions, they weren’t really there challenging hard.
“I don’t think they are there putting pressure on Ferrari, Ferrari have got a quick race car, they’ve done the hard work, I think the spotlight is very much on the strategy decisions that are made.”