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Ex-F1 driver pinpoints where Ferrari's 2022 season unravelled

With Ferrari's 2022 season swiftly going south after having started well, Karun Chandhok says the Scuderia's misfortune at Baku was the key moment.

Karun Chandhok says the turning point in Ferrari's 2022 F1 season came with Charles Leclerc's retirement from the lead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Leclerc had taken an early lead in the 2022 Drivers' Championship after winning two of the first three races, but questions had been raised over Ferrari's reliability after the Monegasque had retired while leading the Spanish Grand Prix. Coming into the Baku event, Leclerc trailed Max Verstappen by nine points, but looked set to be closing that gap as he took an early lead. However, Leclerc once again retired with mechanical issues, with Verstappen going on to win instead. Hamstrung by a grid penalty for the next round in Montreal, Leclerc could only finish fifth in Canada as Verstappen took another win, putting the Dutchman 46 points ahead in a Drivers' Championship that he would ultimately seal with relative ease, as Ferrari's form tailed off. "For me, the turning point in Ferrari's campaign was Baku," Chandhok told Sky F1 . "They arrived in Baku with Leclerc [nine] points behind Max. If he gets a win and fastest lap, they're equal. "[Instead], they had a DNF and a grid penalty for the next race in Canada. They left Montreal eight days later, [46] points behind."

Replacing Binotto the wrong call?

Following Baku, Ferrari would win just two more races in the 2022 season, compared with ten victories for Red Bull. Chandhok added that the subsequent departure of Team Principal Mattia Binotto would not necessarily solve the reliability and operational problems that Ferrari had suffered during 2022. "If you look at it from a technical standpoint, they produced a very fast car, they had the fastest car over one lap this year," said Chandhok. "But operationally and reliability-wise, they had issues, and I don't think just changing the person at the top is necessarily the answer." Chandhok also touched on the pressure of working at Ferrari, suggesting that level of scrutiny and expectation weighed heavily on the Scuderia’s employees. "It turns into a vicious cycle," said Chandhok. "You make an error, you get the scrutiny of the world's media questioning what they're doing, but also you multiply that if you're a Ferrari engineer living and working in Italy, because the papers are full of it, and they do feel that pressure everywhere they go out and about."

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