Martin Brundle believes key personnel at Ferrari could be axed if the Italian squad loses second spot in the constructors’ championship to Mercedes.
A season that began with such promise for the Scuderia, who won two of the first three races, quickly unravelled due to a combination of bungled strategy decisions, pitstop mistakes, driver errors and poor reliability. As a result, Max Verstappen and Red Bull are on the brink of winning the drivers’ title with six rounds remaining.
Red Bull are also on course to claim the constructors’ crown for the first time since 2013. Ferrari are even in danger of losing second spot to Mercedes, who have lacked the pace of the top two teams all season but crucially have generally maximised their points-scoring opportunities.
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Ahead of last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari chairman John Elkann broke his usual public silence to declare his disappointment in the team’s showing this season.
“We have great faith in Mattia Binotto [team principal] and we fully appreciate everything he and all our engineers have done,” Elkann told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But there’s no doubt that the work at Maranello, in the box on the wall, and behind the wheel must improve.”
Sky Sports F1’s Brundle interviewed Binotto over the weekend and hopes he can weather the storm, but admits being overtaken by Mercedes would represent a hammer blow to him and the team.
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“I think he’s under a lot of pressure. I always say in Formula 1 that you’re either giving pressure or taking it, and he’s taking a lot,” said Brundle.
“They’re over 100 points behind in the drivers’ championship. They won two of the first three races and, if you add up all of the reliability issues, the strategy problems, the driver errors, they should be pushing Red Bull really hard in the closing stages of this World Championship. Every time they make a mistake, Red Bull and Max Verstappen gain from it as well.
“I asked him how much pain you will take if you finish behind Mercedes. I think it’s a major problem for them. We see it in football a lot, the changes of managers. If you want to change your team principal, fine, but who with?”
On Elkann’s statement, Brundle added: “It’s a warning shot. Can you imagine if Dietrich Mateschitz [Red Bull owner] said that about Christian [Horner, team principal] or Adrian [Newey, chief technical officer] or the owners of McLaren said that about Zak [Brown, CEO] or Andreas [Seidl, team principal]? We’d be quite shocked.
“That’s a very punchy statement and there’s no doubt that a solid end to the season would take a lot of pressure off.”
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