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2022 French Grand Prix: Ferrari’s Failure Meets Mercedes’ Muscle

Last weekend’s unforgettable moments during season unraveling w/uncertainty
J.J. Gavillet
July 29 2022



The Grand Prix in Le Castellet had everything, and in spades, one looks for in a great motor race – performance, strategy, redemption and heartache. The race comes as the gaps separating drivers are closing in the overall 2022 drivers’ championship, providing opportunity for teams who started the season on tricky ground to find their footing against the stronghold Ferrari had out of the gates – and have since lost.


The men in Red, Carlos Sainz and championship leader Charles Leclerc, both found themselves in peril – Sainz was dinged with a 10-place grid penalty even before the race began due to Ferrari’s choice to modify his car power unit before Saturday’s practice, placing Sainz at the back of the grid when it was lights out on Sunday.

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Leclerc had a much tougher route to failure – the Monacan was leading the race after starting in the pole position, fiercely defending his place at the head of the pack while Max Verstappen, who started the race in P2, tested the limits on Red Bull’s racing rig to overtake. The Red Bull continues to have significant pace in the straights, so DRS zones like those in last weekend’s race should have been enough for him to pass Leclerc but the Ferrari driver’s performance met Verstappen with equal intensity.


It seemed to be Leclerc’s race to lose when suddenly it was just that – with Leclerc skidding into the barriers at high speed, giving Ferrari yet another retirement of the season and Verstappen his ultimate victory in Sunday’s race. "I've been saying I think I'm performing at the highest level in my career but if I keep doing these mistakes then it’s pointless to perform at a very high level,” Leclerc lamented during a post-race interview with Sky Sports.

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Yet there was a ray of hope for the Ferrari team as Sainz slowly made his way from the back of the pack in P19 to a place to receive significant points. While in P5 and heading into the pits, he made an unsafe move back into the pit lane and found himself with a 5-second time penalty that cost him the race outcome the Spaniard deserved.


Meanwhile the errors of Ferrari allowed the comeback everyone has been hoping to see – Sir Lewis Hamilton on the podium for an extraordinary performance, filled with defense and ultimate victory – followed closely behind by teammate George Russell.

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“I definitely don't think George and I expected to be second and third, this is the highest I’ve been all year,” Hamilton shared. Indeed, it was the overall best performance from Mercedes this season and a great step in making up for their overall point deficit in the 2022 Constructors' Championship.


The 2022 season continues to unravel with uncertainty, which F1 fans live for, as the teams adjust further and learn to work with the new car design.


What seemed like a season certain for Ferrari has become a season to hold onto.





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