Red Bull will keep its foot to the throttle on car upgrades despite Max Verstappen’s 63-point lead over Charles Leclerc with ten races left to run.
Ferrari has been criticised – and even ridiculed – for what is becoming a comedy of driver and team errors despite having apparently the fastest car.
“They put everything they could into the 2022 car,” said Russian F1 commentator for Match TV, Alexey Popov. “And they succeeded.
“But they are not ready to fight for the title,” he added. “Ferrari manages to mess up everything – engines, tactics, driver errors and so on in a circle.
“I don’t know how you can fight for a title like that. And it’s not so scary when you’re criticised, but it’s scary for them to be laughed at.
“It’s impossible to imagine this in the days of Jean Todt and Ross Brown,” Popov said.
Former Mercedes boss Norbert Haug agrees that Leclerc’s unforced error whilst leading at Paul Ricard is a “stomach punch” to his world title hopes.
“Even if Leclerc gets ten wins now, he still might not win the title, which shows how difficult it is for him now.
“Because to beat Verstappen in ten races on your own – that will be very difficult,” he told Sport1.
“Thankfully Mattia Binotto is calm and serene – it’s really amazing that he doesn’t lose his cool. I think that’s a very positive quality,” said Haug.
As for whether it will be enough for Leclerc’s fightback, Red Bull certainly isn’t celebrating yet.
“With Budapest, there is now a track that should be better for Ferrari. Only after the summer break will there be races that suit us,” said Dr Helmut Marko.
Therefore, team boss Christian Horner says car developing will press on for now.
“We have a plan that provides for the most efficient development possible in line with the budget cap,” he said. “At the moment there are no plans to deviate from it.”
Marko confirms: “The updates will no longer be as serious, but there will still be updates well into the second half of the season.”
“We have a big lead, but it’s probably bigger than it should be when you look at the performance of the two cars,” he explained.
Marko is also expecting Verstappen to have to take a grid penalty later in the season to have an unscheduled fresh engine installed.
“We’ll have to choose a track that’s easy to overtake on,” he said.
“A lot can still happen. I think you’d have to win 10 to 12 races to have a realistic chance in the championship.”