Just when you thought Ferrari couldn’t possibly produce another nightmare strategy blunder, they pull something out of the hat.
Charles Leclerc had the upper hand on Max Verstappen in the early stages of the season, having won two of the opening three races.
The world title race looked set to be one for the ages in 2022, but Red Bull asserted their dominance and Ferrari continually butchered their own chances.
On Saturday in Brazil their nightmare decision making struck again.
Watch Every Practice, Qualifying & Race of the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship™ Live on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
As the third and final session of qualifying was about to get underway, the clouds over the Interlagos Circuit continued to darken as the threat of rain sat on the brink.
Despite the looming threat, nine of the 10 cars in qualifying lined up at the pit lane exit with a set of soft tyres on.
Only one car sat in the queue with a different set of tyres – Leclerc’s Ferrari being sent out on a set of intermediates. A tyre suited for wet conditions.
The issue for Leclerc, the track was dry.
Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz was the first to highlight the bizarre tyre choice, noting the rain hadn’t come from the clouds yet.
“What’s he doing on inters?” Kravitz pondered.
F1 icon Martin Brundle was baffled by the call from Ferrari.
“It’s hero zero stuff isn’t it, but well spotted Ted. That’s rolling the dice though isn’t it, that’s taking such a chance that it rains quickly enough,” Brundle said.
Leclerc, second toe exit the pits asked the team if he was the only driver on the intermediate tyres to which Ferrari told him he was.
“It’s like turning up to a black-tie dinner and you haven’t read the dress code,” Brundle said as the session got underway.
As the Monegasque driver went around the track, he had just passed the pit entry to start a timed lap when over the radio he was told to pit.
The radio call came too late and Leclerc attempted to set a time around the quick Brazil track to no avail, he aborted the lap and dived into the pits to quickly try and throw on a set of softs.
Unfortunately disaster struck as Mercedes’ George Russell beached his car in the sand and the session was red flagged as marshalls set about clearing his car away.
That’s when things went from bad to even worse for Ferrari as the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down in Brazil.
As the final minutes ticked down after the red flags cleared, Leclerc was stranded in 10th spot on the timesheets and Ferrari ultimately opted not to bother sending him back out.
Leclerc spoke about the latest nightmare situation to slap him down in what has been a turbulent 2022 season
“We were expecting some rain, which never came. I will speak with the team and try and understand what we can do better in those conditions. But I’m extremely disappointed,” he said.
“There was [a big opportunity for us today]. We still have the car. But now we need to get on it and do everything good for the rest of the weekend.”
Ferrari have conjured up a long list of horror decisions in 2022 with the qualifying session in Brazil the latest hit.
During the Hungarian Grand Prix Leclerc held a commanding lead before another tyre strategy blunder cost him dearly and handed victory to Verstappen.
At his home race in Monaco the team fumbled communications by calling both drivers into the pits at the same time, it resulted in Leclerc dropping from first mid-race to finishing fourth.
Another tyre strategy nightmare came during the British Grand Prix when Ferrari opted not to pit Leclerc from the race lead behind a safety car, he was easy pickings on older tyres for his rivals once the race got underway.
BRAZIL GRAND PRIX SPRINT RACE STARTING GRID
1) Kevin Magnussen – 2) Max Verstappen
3) George Russell – 4) Lando Norris
5) Carlos Sainz – 6) Esteban Ocon
7) Fernando Alonso – 8) Lewis Hamilton
9) Sergio Perez – 10) Charles Leclerc
11) Alex Albon – 12) Pierre Gasly
13) Sebastian Vettel – 14) Daniel Ricciardo
15) Lance Stroll – 16) Nicholas Latifi
17) Zhou Guanyu – 18) Valtteri Bottas
19) Yuki Tsunoda – 20) Mick Schumacher