''We Are Not Happy'' Is Ferrari's Season Unravelling On Their Driver's Home Turf?

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have been left frustrated this year
07:00, 31 May 2023

Charles Leclerc’s home Grand Prix once again ended in disappointment as he and Ferrari had to settle for a sixth place finish, while teammate Carlos Sainz crossed the line in 8th. The Monagasque was hoping to finally get some luck in Monte Carlo but a three-place grid penalty and more misjudgement from Ferrari cost him a podium position. 

This is only the second time he has even finished a Monaco Grand Prix due to several strategic blunders and crashes over the years, but he regressed from last season’s 4th place finish. Having been punished for impeding Lando Norris in qualifying, he started and finished in 6th after the rain caused chaos on the tight streets of Monaco. 

With Monaco now in the rear-view mirror, the other Ferrari driver will prepare for his home race. Carlos Sainz is well-liked in Spain and this weekend in Catalunya, the Prancing Horse will be desperate to find some form on home soil. However, it could go the other way completely. The team that pushed Red Bull all the way last season have looked distant so far this term and now their season could be about to unravel on home turf. 

Sainz was pushing hard in Monaco but the rainfall meant he slid off and lost track position before finishing 8th. It was also the recurrence of poor planning for Ferrari as they gambled with both drivers on the medium tyre instead of going for the intermediate as the rain came down. Worryingly, the forecast for Catalunya once again predicts showers, and more chaos this weekend. 

Even in the dry, they’ve not shown the same pace as they had this time last year. They’re currently fourth in the Constructors’ Championship behind Red Bull, Aston Martin and Mercedes, and with the latter showing improvement in Monaco after their upgrade, Ferrari could be in for a tough summer.

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Leclerc took pole in last year’s Spanish Grand Prix and led the race for 27 before mechanical failure stopped him winning the race while Sainz spun into the gravel and spoiled his own race. 

“The pace wasn’t great today,” Leclerc reflected. “I mean, it was actually quite good on the hard [tyres]. On the slicks it was good, but there is nothing to do here. It was basically a waiting game and then, when we started to push, the tyres had gone away a little bit.”

“We are not happy with where we are,” he continued. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to recover performance, because for now we’re just too far away.”

Those comments will ring true in the Ferrari garage. They know they are not near the levels of last season but now are in a fight to finish above Aston Martin and Mercedes. Judging by how competitive Fernando Alonso was again this weekend, beating Aston Martin looks like a difficult task. Given there are millions of pounds at stake between finishing 4th, 3rd or 2nd - Ferrari need to get their act together. 

They’ve got the proudest history in the sport, but 2023 has not started the way they dreamt it would. Now they are on the back foot, and with a home Grand Prix approaching for Sainz this weekend, could face more difficulties on and off the track. 

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