Ferrari and the art of favouring drivers

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By , Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    Rather than experiencing shock during the Hungarian Grand Prix over Ferrari’s race tactics, there was that familiar feeling of ‘why are we not surprised’, as once again Sebastian Vettel was prioritised over Kimi Räikkönen.

    Despite starting from pole position and having a solid grasp on the race during the first portion, Vettel encountered issues following the exit of the Safety Car.

    His steering found itself aligned to the left while driving straight, hampering the German throughout the race.

    The one and only pit-stop made by the 30-year-old did little to improve the situation with the #5 Ferrari, as it clearly began to neuter his pace advantage.

    Having been instructed by his engineer to “avoid the kerbs” on such a technical circuit, the dominant pace seen earlier by Vettel was now absent. Instead, the sister Ferrari of Räikkönen found itself as the faster car.

    However, the pace did not translate over to the result that the 2007-world champion would have desired – with the Scuderia yet again telling their driver to maintain second position.

    “Kimi had good pace and could go a lot faster than me for the majority of the race,” Vettel remarked post-race, acknowledging that his teammate was the quicker of the duo on this occasion.

    While the argument (if they would bother) from Ferrari would solely revolve around the points for the championship battle, in which Vettel is closely matched to Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton, the Scuderia unnecessarily risked losing the race for Vettel’s title gains.

    With the pace having been slowed by the leader, the Silver Arrows both were in a position at the end of the race to mount an assault on the red cars. So much so that Valtteri Bottas was advised to let his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, past for the faster Mercedes AMG to have a crack at the win.

    Ultimately, this did not eventuate for either Hamilton or Bottas – though the class put on display was remarkable, with the Briton allowing his teammate back into his original position, on the podium, at the final corner.

    Hamilton did lament that the change of position could come back to bite him in the backside at the end of the championship, but the decision supports the Mercedes mantra of attaining the best result at each race.

    Contrast that to Ferrari, whom trail their rivals in silver by 39 points in the constructors’ standings, and opened the door to being stripped of a guaranteed victory in Hungary.

    Yes, come the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the extra seven points accumulated by Vettel for finishing first instead of second may be the differentiator between winning a fifth championship or not.

    Though, the three points conversely lost by Hamilton may have worked to the German’s favour, regardless of whether he won the race or was runner up.

    It’s Räikkönen who stands as the biggest loser for the umpteenth time. With many critics out to have him ousted from his incumbent position, the team restricting their former world champion from being the best on the day appears a lose-lose situation for the Finn.

    All the while, Ferrari look set to announce an unchanged driver line-up for 2018 come their home race in Monza. It would be remiss to ignore the possibility of the 37-year-old remaining winless at the behest of his employers.

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