We didn’t notice in time

Among the reasons that led to Ferrari’s resounding flop in the 2022 Formula 1 Mexican GP there is also a serious error of assessment by the Cavallino engineers who noticed the problem when it was too late to remedy.

On the weekend of Mexican GP of Formula 1 2022 was undoubtedly seen worst Ferrari of the season. In fact, before the weekend on the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit never had the F1-75 shown itself so far from Red Bull and Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz for the first time in this championship suffered in qualifying (closed with the Spaniard, fresh from pole in Austin, 5th and the Monegasque, author of 9 poles in the season, even only 7th) getting abysmal detachments from Verstappen and Perez, but also from the revived Russell and Hamilton. And in the race then it went even worse with the two standard bearers of the Cavallino who finished very far from the first and were almost doubled by the winner of the race. (from which at each lap they caught between 7 and 9 tenths of a second) and never able to keep up even the pace of the Mercedes drivers (with Russell, 4th, who also allowed himself the luxury of a pit stop extra in the final to take the extra point of the fastest lap such was his advantage over the two drivers of the Maranello team).

So just look at the order of arrival to understand that the Mexican GP was Ferrari’s worst grand prix of the season that never before, in this 2022, had shown itself to be so uncompetitive compared to the other two top teams on the grid. Inevitably one wonders what is the reason for this sensational flop of the Cavallino in Mexico City. To answer this question we must first highlight the particular characteristics of the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit located at 2000 meters above the sea level and therefore with thevery thin air which forces the single-seaters to show up on the track with a very high aerodynamic load which, if not well balanced, however, causes the car to slip excessively. At the same time, the lower air density also reduces the drag of the single-seaters, which therefore reach very high top speeds on the straights of the Mexican track.

Formula 1, Ferraris lead in the first free practice of the Mexican GP: Sainz precedes Leclerc

Knowing the strengths of the cars on the track, this would be enough to understand that it is not a circuit that enhances the characteristics of the F1-75. However, it is clear that this is not enough to explain the very disappointing performance of the Ferraris in the Mexican GP. To understand the real reasons of this flop you have to read between the lines of what the team principal Mattia Binottonot present in Mexico City but remained in Maranello to work on the 2023 car, he said in his post-race analysis.

The number one on the wall of the Cavallino team has in fact admitted that, for fear of having the umpteenth seasonal problems with the turbocharger (Achilles heel of F1-75), for the Mexican GP weekend red’s engineers have decided to reduce the power delivered by the power unit: “We had to compromise with the power unit“said Binotto at the end of the race in fact confirming that the drivers raced with a very conservative mapping.

This consequently also led to a further compromise for what concerns the set-up of the single-seaters in order to limit the gap in terms of speed on the straights of the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit. This anomalous setup, however, forced the drivers to have to deal with an annoying understeer and an obvious difficulty on the curbs and out of corners that made the F1-75 almost undriveable. (or in any case impossible to push to the maximum) as both Leclerc and Sainz complained throughout the weekend.

If, in the name of reliability, the power reduction of the power unit was something that could not be changed over the course of the weekend, the same is not true for the set-up of the single-seater that after the first day of free practice could still be fixed. Why wasn’t it done? To give the answer to this question is once again Mattia Binotto who in fact confirms that there was one in this regard sensational oversight by Ferrari engineers that, not having taken this eventuality into account (despite the precedent of Spa), they noticed the poor maneuverability of Leclerc and Sainz’s cars when it was too late to repair. In fact, in FP1 the two pilots of the Italian team had finished with the best times, while in FP2 conditioned by the Pirelli Test both had already pointed out the difficulties in driving with Leclerc who even ended up on the wall having lost control of his car:

The driving behavior was not particularly great – these are in fact the declarations of the Modenese engineer reported by Auto, Motor und Sport –. The balance was not right. The drivers were having a hard time getting the car to turn. We didn’t notice it in the first free practice session. And then even the Pirelli tire test in the second free practice session certainly didn’t help us. The same thing happened to us in Spa“in fact, the Ferrari team principal commented, thus admitting that, at least as regards the handling of the F1-75 on the Mexican circuit, something better could have been done.


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