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Ferrari insist ‘nothing to change’ despite horror run; Red Bull’s poaching spree continues: F1 Pit Talk

Ferrari is enjoying a historically anomalous period of great calm in the face of poor results.

In eras past a string of bad results such as these would have been seen heads role. It would have been inconceivable that the team would arrive in Belgium in the same configuration as it left Hungary after shipping an incredible 146 points to Red Bull Racing — not to mention Charles Leclerc gifting 126 points to Verstappen in the same 10 races.

But this is a new Ferrari devoted to a new way.

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Team boss Mattia Binotto has been steadfast in his defense of his engineers, even admitting several months ago that this year was not destined to be a championship campaign in an attempt to take the pressure off his wilting brains trust.

That strategy may not have worked as intended, but the fastest car still at the team’s disposal, he’s hoping he has enough time to turn the ship around for a title tilt in 2023 without losing too many sailors overboard.

No such problems exist at Red Bull, meanwhile, where the team is actively poaching from rival teams — well, one rival team in particular — to fill its growing power unit factory, while Lewis Hamilton is keeping himself busy undertaking different sporting business entirely.

FERRARI WON’T SCAPEGOATS ITS WAY TO SUCCESS

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says he won’t be making wholesale changes to his team during the mid-season break despite a growing list of race-defining catastrophes in recent months.

The Italian team started the season as the championship favorite after Charles Leclerc won two of the first three grands prix to establish a 34-point lead in the drivers standings and a 39-point advantage on the constructors table.

But it took the Scuderia seven more rounds to win another race despite almost always fielding the fastest car. Race after race the team shipped points to Red Bull Racing through either unreliability or human error, particularly through baffling strategy calls.

The latest bungled decision came at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, where the team badly strategized Leclerc’s race, including by giving him the hard tire for what should have been his final stint despite never having used the compound during practice and despite several other drivers struggling badly with it further down the field.

Leclerc burnt by ANOTHER Ferrari blunder | 01:14

Leclerc was easy pickings for Verstappen, who ended up stripping him of his lead and dominating the race. Leclerc finished sixth to fall 80 points behind the Dutchman, while Ferrari has slipped to 97 points adrift.

But Binotto, whose engineering background as leant the team a calmer and better balanced attitude, said in Budapest that he would stand by his staff, describing mistakes as part of the learning process.

“It’s not a matter of bad luck, and there is nothing to change as well,” Binotto said. “It’s always a matter of continuous learning and building, building experience, building skills.

“Certainly there is something that you need to look at [from the Hungarian Grand Prix] and understand why. But if I look again at the balance of the first half of the season, there is no reason why we should change.

“I think we simply need to address what was wrong [on Sunday]we need to understand and then address [it] and get back competitive at the 12 races so far [before Hungary] and the reason why it could not be the case at the next one.

“We are winning and losing all together. Today it has not been a great one, but I think there is still much potential and a lot of potential.

“We need to focus first to understand the reasons of today, address them, and come back even stronger.”

RED BULL STRIKES NEW HONDA DEAL

Honda will continue supplying Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri with power units until the end of the current rule set in 2025.

The Japanese company attempted to leave Formula 1 at the end of last season to focus its resources and its carbon-neutral goals but was coaxed by Red Bull Racing into a two-year transition period during which its Sakura factory would continue preparing power units before handing over to the newly formed Red Bull Powertrains in Milton Keynes.

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That deal quickly morphed into a straight customer deal for 2022 and 2023 to retain Red Bull’s status as a new engine manufacturer for 2026, which will make it eligible for development concessions when it is expected to unite with Porsche, but left it with a two- year gap to plug for engine supply.

However, with Honda recently making regretful noises about withdrawing from the sport just as its power unit propelled Max Verstappen to his maiden title and seems certain to win the championship double this season, the Japanese marque has struck a deal with Red Bull for a new technical partnership running to the end of 2025 to bridge the gap.

“We have agreed to continue supporting Red Bull Powertrains in Formula 1 through [Honda Racing Corporation] following Red Bull’s request to extend our current agreement, which HRC can meet within its existing resources,” HRC president Koji Watanabe said. “Once again, we aim to use our involvement in the pinnacle of motorsport for the development of technologies and of our workforce.”

Last month Watanabe also left the door open to Honda returning to the sport as a constructor in its own right under the new rules starting in 2026. It would be the company’s fifth return to Formula 1.

In Milton Keynes, progress on beefing up Red Bull Powertrains is continuing apace, with the company poaching yet another Mercedes engine chief, this time Phil Prew.

HAMILTON BUYS BRONCOS

Lewis Hamilton has become a part-owner of the Denver Broncos NFL team after buying into the ownership group that purchased the franchise earlier this year.

The Broncos were bought by a consortium led by billionaire Rob Walton of the Walmart-founding Walmart family along with his daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and her husband, Greg Penner. Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is also among the ownership group.

Piastri backflip as he denies Alpine F1 | 01:07

The sale was reportedly worth US$4.65 billion (A$6.7 billion), making it the most expensive deal in the history of US sport ownership changes. The previous highest was the New York Mets sale for US$2.4 billion in 2020.

Rob Walton has an estimated net worth in excess of US$62 billion himself.

This week Hamilton was announced as buying into the ownership group, though the size of his stake in the team is unclear.

“We’re delighted to welcome seven-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton to our ownership group,” the Walton-Penner group said in a statement. “He is a champion competitor who knows what it takes to lead a winning team and a fierce advocate for global equality, including him in his own sport.

“With over 100 race wins, Lewis is considered the most successful F1 driver of all time. His resilient spirit and standard of excellence will be an asset to the ownership group and the Broncos organisation.”

It’s not the first sporting venture Hamilton’s been involved in. Most recently I have entered a team into the inaugural season of Extreme E, the electric off-road racing championship now in its second season.

Earlier this year he joined with Serena Williams in an unsuccessful bid led by British businessman Martin Broughton to buy English Premier League club Chelsea. The team was eventually sold to a US-led consortium for £4.25 billion (A$7.46 billion).

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