Mika Hakkinen believes that for Charles Leclerc to stand a chance of closing the gap to Max Verstappen, the latter must have a non-finish, provided Ferrari keep their reliability woes in check as well.
Ferrari’s reliability demons hit them once again at the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, as Carlos Sainz’s power unit blew up engulfing the F1-75 in flames ending his race on the spot, while Charles Leclerc also suffered a problem with his throttle pedal, but luckily made it to the end of the race to take his third win this season.
However the Scuderia were supreme with the pace extracted from their cars in Spielberg, rendering Red Bull and Verstappen helpless to resist their surge.
“Ferrari beat Red Bull in a straight fight this weekend and that will give them a lot of confidence at this mid-point of the season,” Hakkinen said in his Unibet column reflecting on the race in Austria.
Ferrari had better tyre degradation in Austria
“Ferrari have worked hard to find the straight line speed they need to compete against Red Bull, but at the weekend we also saw that they had better tyre performance on a circuit which normally suits the Red Bulls.
“Tyre performance is so critical in F1 and very much depends on the type of circuit,” the Finn added. “Whether it places the emphasis on front or rear grip and the balance between them. The track in Austria tends to make rear tyre wear more critical than the front, and this favoured Ferrari.
“Although Max won the Sprint Race on Saturday in order to claim pole position, Charles already could see that his car had the performance to challenge for the win on Sunday. He even said so on the team radio!
“So although Max started the race strongly, Charles was able to stay fully in touch and overtake fairly easily as Max’s rear tyres struggled,” the double Formula 1 Champion pointed out.
Ferrari have been prone to strategy errors, in addition to their reliability problems this year, something Hakkinen highlighted, saying: “Ferrari’s race strategies have caused some problems this year, but not on Sunday.
No strategy blunders from the Scuderia
“When they saw Max switch to a two-stop strategy they followed, but by making their pit stops significantly later they always retained a strong tyre advantage.
“This is the kind of confident strategy Ferrari will need to maintain if they are to consistently challenge Red Bull,” the former McLaren driver insisted.
However he warned Ferrari to sort out their reliability, especially after what happened in Austria saying: “Carlos’s engine failure shows that Ferrari still have work to do on reliability and I am sure they must know where the problems lie.
“Charles cannot afford to have those kinds of failures if he is to close the gap to Max. In fact he needs Max to have a non-finish if the points gap in the World Championship is to really close down,” Hakkinen maintained.