Indy 500 Marcus Ericsson winner believes his former Formula 1 teammate Charles Leclerc is increasingly frustrated amid his Ferrari team’s glaring slip-ups which all but gifted this year’s titles to their rivals at Red Bull.
This despite having a great car in the Ferrari F1-75 for their more than capable drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, when things go right they have the firepower to win races one-two, but somehow still manage to engineer defeat when victory is in sight.
Ericsson knows a thing or two about Leclerc and his temperament having spent 2018 as Alfa Romeo teammates. Now, freed of the shackles of being politically correct F1 style, the Swede, with his career now firmly welded to the USA, weighed into the Ferrari incompetence debate.
While the Scuderia’s fumbles have been plain to see all season long, team boss Mattia Binotto remains in denial and sees no fault in the way his Ferrari team are ‘taking the fight’ to Red Bull despite memes on social media showing him as Red Bull’s July Employee of the Month.
But more concerning is, how do the drivers Carlos Sainz and Leclerc stay confident in a team who they need to correct from the cockpit during the heat of battle? A team whose pitstops are normally fumbles compared to the slick operators over at Red Bull.
Do the drivers sometimes dare to wonder how the Reds would be doing if the Blue pitwall was doing the maths for the two Charlies?
Ericsson: Charles is pushing maybe a bit too hard so it’s not ideal
Speaking on Sky F1’s Any Driven Monday Ericsson explained where the problems lie for Leclerc: “I think that he’s been fast this year, but it’s just been a lot of issues. He’s very frustrated.
“What happened in Paul Ricard, one of the reasons why it happened is because Charles wants to win races, he wants to get back in the championship hunt and it just has not been the case. Then he’s pushing, maybe a bit too hard so it’s not ideal.
“It will be tough for Charles because he’ll feel he has had the opportunity to really fight for a championship this year and he hasn’t because quite a few things are out of his control.”
Ferrari started the season with all pistons pumping, Leclerc leading home Sainz for a one-two at the season opener in Bahrain by Round 4, Charles led the standings by 27 points to chief title rival Max Verstappen.
But things went wrong for Ferrari, now 13 races into the season Max leads Charles by 80 points
Ericsson recalled: “They’ve been so fast all year. And still, they are managing to be 80 points off the lead of the championship and they seem to constantly mess it up, right?
“If it’s not strategy, it’s the car breaking down, or Charles crashing. There’s always something, it feels like, and it’s just so crazy when they have such a good car, and they can’t seem to capitalise on it.
“In Hungary, they had a really, really strong position in the race. They had Red Bull not optimising their qualifying, starting from bad starting positions.
“Ferrari had a golden opportunity to claw some points back in the championship, and still, they managed to finish behind and Max wins the race. I’m surprised really to see that happening race after race.”
Ericsson relates: “The problem, from a driver perspective, and I think we’ve seen it quite a few times this year, is that both Carlos and Charles are doubting the decisions that their pitwall is making during a race.
“That trust that you need to have as a driver with your team, it seems to be lacking a bit between Ferrari and their drivers and, over a season, that’s not good. So it’s definitely a big question mark at the moment.
“Now that they’ve lost so many points, I don’t know if there’s any chance they could get that back now in the second half of the season,” added Ericcson.
The 31-year-old Swede made 97 F1 starts in a career that began at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix until his final race in the top flight at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Ericsson got his Indycar real with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2020 and rewarded them with victory at the Indianapolis 500 in May.
He lies third in the 2022 Indycar Championship behind series veterans Scott Dixon and Will Power with three rounds remaining the title remains up for grabs.