With about 10 races left in the 2022 seasn, Ferrari are trailing Red Bull by 72 points in the constructors’ charts and their lead driver Charles Leclerc is 63 points behind Max Verstappen. And a podium-less French GP only dampened their hopes.
Verstappen, of Red Bull, emerged victorious at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet. Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were second and third. Sergio Perez came fourth.
Carlos Sainz’s car was the only Ferrari to finished. The Spanish driver, who had received a five-second penalty, was fifth. His teammate Charles Leclerc crashed out after starting on pole.
Leclerc’s race ended on Lap 18 when he lost the rear of his car coming out of Turn 11, spinning 360 degrees before crashing into a tire wall. Leclerc could not speak at first, breathing heavily in his helmet before telling his team the mishap was caused by a throttle problem.
He then screamed a furious “Noooooooooo!”
It’s the third time this season Leclerc has failed to finish a race, while Ferrari has had seven DNF’s through 12 races. Leclerc’s failure Sunday came two weeks after a throttle problem almost cost him victory at the Austrian GP.
Leclerc, who is only seven points ahead of third-place Perez in the title battle, later said the crash was driver error.
“We’ll add things up at the end of the season, but if we’re 25 or 30 points short at the season I can only blame myself,” Leclerc said. “I couldn’t go into reverse, but those are small details. You just can’t put a car into the wall.”
Sainz, on the other hand, received the penalty for an unsafe release that almost led to a collision with a Williams car.
Sainz had passed Russell and Perez when his team told him to pit for new tires with 10 laps left.
“Come on, guys, I can’t believe you told me to box then,” Sainz grumbled. “I don’t know why we boxed. I don’t understand.”
After the race, he explained his position.
“At Ferrari we get super criticized for things other teams might go through in their pit stop window. We are not the disaster people seem to say we are,” Sainz said. “Yes I wanted to stay out, I maybe saw a podium position. The team has a lot more data on their screens. They did it with the best intentions and best spirit.
“My point of view is that if I couldn’t pass Checo, I would box. The moment I passed him, I thought ‘See if I could pull away.’ At that stage, the numbers said it was impossible I would make it to the end. In the moment my feeling was different but I didn’t see the numbers.”