Ferrari continues to be its own worst enemy.
Much has been said about Circuit Paul Ricard's contract ending and Formula 1 potentially not returning in 2023.
After watching the French Grand Prix this weekend, we're left wondering why F1 hasn't dropped the Paul Ricard sooner. Fans have been complaining about the track since its return in 2018. Yesterday's race was the worst thing to hit our TV screens since Fast 9 started streaming.
The Monaco Grand Prix is often called out for being a high-speed procession, but it was quite exciting this year. Yesterday's race was an actual high-speed procession with a smattering of controversy. We don't remember a noteworthy overtaking maneuver, but we remember Sergio Perez sleeping on the job and Ferrari doing the most to ruin Sainz's race.
We feel for you, Ferrari fans. Scuderia Ferrari is making a habit of dominating everything except the actual race on Sunday. The cars aren't reliable, and the strategy team is making worse decisions than a drunk college kid at 2 am on a Sunday morning.
Let's look at Ferrari's many transgressions this weekend. First, it failed to bring Leclerc in at the right time. He eventually owned his mistake, but Ferrari should have pushed him to get new tires. The team then let Sainz drive straight into the pitlane without checking for other cars, resulting in a near collision with Albon and a five-second penalty.
But the worst transgression was the inability to make a decision and stick with it. Sains was supposed to stay out, but then they called him into the pit for a tire change while he was battling with Perez for a position.
The last thing you need when going up against Checo Perez is somebody nagging in your ear to box, seconds after you've already passed the pitlane.
Ferrari's strategic decisions are poor, and it's costing the team more than just the driver's championship. Mercedes is slowly catching up, proving that consistency is just as important as being fast.
The reigning F1 world champion is sitting pretty at the moment. Charles Leclerc is back in second place, but Sergio Perez is just 7 points behind.
Verstappen has collected 233 points and is showing no signs of slowing down. Leclerc needs two wins plus two DNFs from Max to catch up, which is highly unlikely so far into the season. Red Bull has built a beast of a car that is reliable too.
Max is also more mature this season, calmly dominating from the front, waiting for his Aston Martin Valkyrie to be delivered. Watching him put pressure on Leclerc and Ferrari was the highlight of the race. If he continues like this, the F1 championship likely won't be decided at the season's final race. There is one man who can possibly throw a spanner in the works, but it's a long shot...
Sir Lewis Hamilton had a slow start this season and still has the least points out of the top six. He's 106 points behind Max Verstappen, a significant change from last season, where the two were neck-and-neck throughout the whole season.
Mercedes has struggled throughout the first half of the season, and it's still battling to be competitive. It's now only ten seconds behind the Red Bull, down from 20 to 30 seconds at the beginning of the season.
But one must never discount the seven-time champion of the world. He's quickly catching up to his teammate with two successive third-place and one second-place finish.
The Hungarian Grand Prix takes place in less than a week, after which the circus grinds to a halt for four weeks. Will Mercedes hit back hard at the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28? The progress it has made over the last three Grand Prix says yes.
F1 teams are paid according to where they finish the season. Finish at the top, and you get the most. Score zero points, and you get almost nothing. This usually leads to a long-lasting slump, which is exceptionally tricky to get out of. For reference, see Williams.
McLaren has been slipping since 2020, when it finished in third place. Last year it finished in fourth place behind Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari. The scarlet team has traditionally been its main rival, but now the British squad is duking it out with the French.
Alpine has been on its tail since the start of the season, and thanks to a strong performance from Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon at the French Grand Prix, Alpine has pushed McLaren down to fifth.
The Hungarian Grand Prix is up next, and the Hungaroring street circuit is highly unpredictable. Esteban Ocon won it for Alpine last year following a series of unfortunate events for Red Bull.
The Hungaroring is not a fast circuit, which plays into everyone but Red Bull's favor. The track rewards high downforce and good balance, and the lack of straights means top speed does not come into play.
This will be a prime opportunity for Mercedes to capitalize on its progress and put potential pressure on Red Bull and Ferrari.