From leading both championships to once again watching their deficit to Red Bull grow, Dutch racer Jeroen Bleekemolen says Ferrari are going through “really difficult moments”.
Three races into this season Ferrari and their Tifosi were smiling as Charles Leclerc raced to a 34-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship with his Australian Grand Prix victory, his second of the season. Ferrari were 39 up on the chasing pack in the Constructors’.
And then Red Bull went on a four-race winning streak, Max Verstappen taking the lead in the Drivers’ standings in Spain and extending it to nine points in Monaco where Red Bull’s advantage in the Constructors’ increased to 36 points.
It was a race that Leclerc should have won were it not for Ferrari’s botched pit stop strategy, but should have is fast becoming his mantra as he was also leading in the Spain before his engine failed.
“These are really difficult moments for the team,” Bleekemolen told Motorsport.com.
Confusion then frustration for Charles 😖#MonacoGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/KaAlH2NP5F
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 29, 2022
Speaking specifically about Monaco, he continued: “In the heat of the moment things can happen, it definitely needs to be talked about. In normal circumstances this does not happen much, but because of Monaco it was a strange and separate strategy.”
Leclerc was furious with the team when they pitted him for intermediate tyres, which cost him the lead, only to pit him again three laps later for slick tyres. He fell to fourth and was not able to recover.
But while Leclerc stopped when Ferrari told him to, his team-mate Carlos Sainz said no and insisted on staying out only making the stop for slicks. He finished P2.
Asked whether Leclerc should have taken a hand in his own strategy, Bleekemolen said “that is difficult. You are in the lead and you have pressure on your shoulders.
“He hasn’t done anything wrong. He was performing optimally. He did very well and based on speed he really deserved to win.”
In the end, though, he was fourth with Sergio Perez taking the victory ahead of Sainz and Max Verstappen.
As for Verstappen, Bleekemolen reckons it was the best possible outcome after a difficult weekend for the reigning World Champion.
“It was not an easy weekend for him, but to make up points in this way at Leclerc is kind of a dream scenario,” he said. “Leclerc was very fast and loses the race due to bad luck. He must be disappointed that it did not go smoothly.”
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