Christian Klien warns of impact of Italian press praise on Ferrari team
There is great jubilation in Italy as Ferrari returned to winning ways, but Christian Klien warned of the flip side if the good times stop.
Ferrari had not won a Formula 1 race since Singapore 2019, but that unwanted streak was put to rest emphatically at the 2022 season-opener as Charles Leclerc took the Bahrain victory, leading home a Ferrari one-two ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz.
There is no other Formula 1 team like Ferrari, and as expected, their return to the top step of the podium has been lapped up by the press in their native Italy.
However, former Formula 1 racer Klien warned that this praise can quickly turn to criticism again.
Speaking on ServusTV’s ‘Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar-7’ programme, regarding the Ferrari press coverage in Italy, Klien said: “That could be problematic. The Italian press in particular likes to write you up and then brutally bring you back down to earth, we have experienced that time and time again.”
The 2020 and 2021 campaigns represented tough times for Ferrari, especially 2020 as the Scuderia found themselves fighting in the midfield just trying to score points.
But Ferrari looked ahead to 2022 as their golden ticket back to the front thanks to sweeping regulation changes, using 2021 primarily to focus on the season to follow.
And as Bahrain showed, this turned out to be the correct decision.
“Ferrari had two tough years, but then did the only right thing, they took 2021 out early and went full steam ahead with the new car – it’s paying off now,” said Klien.
“When the regulations are turned upside down like this, nobody knows who will be where on the first race weekend. But now it has been proven – Ferrari is very well positioned.”
Leclerc even had time to pull a last lap-prank on his Ferrari crew, acting as though he had an engine issue, as had legitimately been the case back at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, costing him the race win.
Klien is pretty sure that Leclerc’s engineer would have known it was a joke from the start, but feels it highlighted that the events from Bahrain three years must have stung deep.
“The race engineer probably realised straight away that it was a joke. But the background was serious,” Klien explained.
“Two years ago in Bahrain, he had problems with the engine in the last part of the race and Leclerc lost what seemed to be a sure victory. That sting must have been deep.”
Leclerc’s run to the 2022 Bahrain GP victory was not quite smooth sailing, since Red Bull’s Max Verstappen launched an attack for the lead shortly after both drivers had made their first stops.
The main aim for these new regulations is to allow cars to follow closer for longer, thus increasing overtaking opportunities, and the Leclerc-Verstappen battle served to evidence that the 2022 cars are delivering, with the pair trading P1 and P2 as they scrapped over multiple laps before Leclerc eventually won out.
And on top of the cars now being better at following, Klien also noticed in Bahrain that drivers were making more errors than before, which also increases the overtaking opportunities.
“We had recognised the first signs in the test, the aerodynamics have been simplified in these completely new race cars, we now know that it has become better to follow each other,” said the Austrian racer.
“There were some great scenes. That was a foretaste of the upcoming World Championship rounds, and it makes you want more.
“We are seeing more driving errors again, these cars are obviously more difficult to drive. We also saw one or two slips when accelerating out of the corners, which opens up opportunities for the chaser. I liked it all very much.”
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