The 2022 Hungarian GP was a tough pill to swallow. As a Ferrari fan, the race went from a race worth celebrating to a nightmare and a half. At this point, Ferrari have got nothing left to ruin. The championship is so far out of their reach that another blunder wouldn’t do anything. They went from running ahead of the competition to shooting themselves in the foot multiple times. At this rate, they’re barely going to limp to the finish line. Simply unbelievable. In the 2022 Hungarian GP, we’re going to analyse the head-scratcher of a strategy that Ferrari employed.
On the other hand, Max Verstappen’s race was the complete opposite. The reigning champion converted a disappointing qualifying to a stunning victory. He accomplished a gargantuan task and won the race from 10th on the grid. Lewis Hamilton achieved a similar accomplishment by finishing 2nd after starting 7th. After securing the first pole position of his career, Russell finished in 3rd. Carlos Sainz finished a disappointing 4th, while Sergio Perez finished in a solid 5th place after starting 11th. It was Charles Leclerc who got the worst of it. He started 3rd, overtook Russell for the lead of the race, but only finished 6th because of Ferrari’s strategy. OUCH.
The entire grid saw quite a bit of a shakeup throughout the race. And this is because of the variability in the strategy. The 2022 Hungarian GP saw a strategic struggle as the teams tried to get the jump on each other. The strategy is very important at the Hungaroring because it’s a lot easier to beat a rival off-track than to overtake them on track. And Ferrari messed up their strategy, which is why we’re going to analyse the biggest strategy fail. While Ferrari got things wrong, Verstappen was spot on, and he completed a fabulous recovery drive. However, is the area that saw the biggest shakeup of all. With unpredictable tire performances in the changing weather, midfield teams did a lot of experimentation with which tires they would use, and that shook up the midfield. Some choices worked, while others failed, which is why the starting order and the finishing order were quite different.
Ferrari went beyond dropping the ball on this one. I mean, this one is not even just a blunder. It’s a repeated blunder where Ferrari continuously succeed in ruining their races. I know that I’m being very harsh on Ferrari, and so is the rest of the F1 world. But I have to argue that this is what is needed. We’re talking about the longest-running and most successful team in the history of Formula 1. The way they’ve blown up their championship chances has blown my mind! And honestly, the 2022 Hungarian GP was probably one of the worst Ferrari fumbles that I’ve ever seen.
Let me show you the race as it unfolded from my perspective. Imagine if you were watching a football (soccer) match. Your favourite team is playing a match against their biggest rivals. Your team scores a great goal to get into the lead. This is referring to when Leclerc overtook Russell for the lead of the race with that fantastic late braking move around the outside into Turn 1. And then, your favourite team, after maintaining the lead, then scores an own goal! And then they score another own goal even closer to the end of the match which does nothing but ensure that their rivals steam ahead to victory. That’s exactly what Ferrari did.
After all of these mistakes, you would think that Ferrari would try to rectify them. You’d think that they would tackle the problem as a team and find the people or the areas in the team that need changing or improvement. However, Ferrari are doing the complete opposite. When the team takes a decision for the strategy, there is a system as to how the decisions are taken. There are strategists on the pit wall, in the garage, and even back in the Ferrari HQ in Maranello.
They are running computer simulations using huge amounts of data on the tires and car performances and more. And these simulations are run before the weekend, after practice, and during the race. So it takes a lot of time and precision to perfect the strategy, meaning it’s not an easy job. After all of the calculations and consideration, decisions are made as to when the cars should pit and what tires they should use. And Ferrari are consistently making wrong decisions. So where is the issue in the Ferrari strategy team? Are certain members of the team repeatedly making mistakes? Or is it Ferrari’s Head of Strategy, Iñaki Rueda who’s taking the wrong decisions? This is something that Ferrari need to investigate. But Ferrari are doing the opposite and saying that there is “nothing to change”.
During the 2022 Hungarian GP, there was one thing that was crystal clear; the hard tires were not working. Fans who were sitting at home even knew that, especially because the Alpines struggled so much on those tires. Due to the low track temperature, the tires weren’t able to reach the optimum temperature and grip up. And when Ferrari put Leclerc on the hard tires, it was game over. And to compound the grief of the Ferrari fans, a few laps later, they pit him again! He came in for softs, came out of the pits in P6 and miles behind Perez, and was left with no fighting chance. Ferrari gave up and accepted defeat for Leclerc.
With all of that data, how on Earth did the Ferrari strategy team not see how bad the hards were? And to make it worse, Pirelli, who are the tire manufacturers, provide recommended and alternative strategies. The Medium-Medium-Hard strategy, which was the strategy, Ferrari put Leclerc on, wasn’t even an alternative strategy from Pirelli! It’s like Ferrari had an exam, and the teacher gave them the answers, and Ferrari still got it wrong! It’s a strategic catastrophe, and yet Ferrari are blaming it on the car not working in the cold conditions when they clearly threw the win out of the window. In terms of pace, the data itself shows that Leclerc was on average the fastest car on the track. And it’s clear that he would’ve won or at least finished on the podium if it wasn’t for Ferrari’s blunder.