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How Ferrari beat McLaren to become Best of the Rest

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Away from the drama of the Red Bull-Mercedes tussle for the win, Ferrari and McLaren contested an interesting battle for 3rd spot in the constructor’s championship.

Although Ferrari came out on top, McLaren fought hard, and only slipped away due to some inconsistency and poor luck at the back end of the season.

Three of the four drivers across the teams fought hard for 5th place in the drivers championship, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz edging out McLaren’s Lando Norris, ahead of Charles Leclerc.

McLaren started the better of the two teams, outscoring the Ferraris in each of the first three races. This included Norris’s first podium of the season at Imola. Both had started consistently, though, with good points scoring from both cars across the opening rounds.

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Up to Baku, both were evenly matched, and both Norris and Ferrari’s Sainz finished on the podium in Monaco.

However, Ferrari had a poor French Grand Prix, with neither Sainz or Charles Leclerc scoring points. This meant that after seven rounds of the championship, McLaren were firmly ahead, with 110 points to Ferrari’s 94.

Norris and Leclerc then traded podiums in Austria and Britain, before it was McLaren’s turn for a no points weekend in Hungary.

At the half-way stage of the season, both teams were tied on 163 points.

1️⃣6️⃣3️⃣ points each. 😳

Nothing to separate McLaren and Ferrari in the first half of the season! 👊

— McLaren (@McLarenF1) August 13, 2021

A poor race at Zandvoort saw McLaren pick up just a single point compared to Ferrari’s 16, but McLaren’s 1-2 finish at Monza saw them take 45 points, at the home of the Tifosi.

Norris came close to repeating the feat the following weekend in Russia, but fell short due to the weather, dropping down to 7th place, whilst Sainz finished 3rd.

Going into the final five rounds of the season, McLaren held a slender lead over their Italian rivals, with 254 points to Ferrari’s 250.5.

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However, a big drop in form for the Papaya cars, and consistent Ferrari points scoring, saw Ferrari take 3rd place in Abu Dhabi.

McLaren took just 21 points from the final five races, whereas Ferrari took 73, including another podium for Sainz in the final round.

This meant that Ferrari secured 5th place, with 323.5 points to McLaren’s 275.

So, how did Ferrari take third place? The answer is consistency throughout the season.

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Where McLaren had some tracks that suited them brilliantly, and they took advantage of other events like in Monza. They were, however, susceptible to races with low points scored, and a large drop in form at the end of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo spent longer getting up to speed in a new car than Sainz did, and so was not scoring points to the same level as his teammate. Ricciardo was fighting Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly for 8th spot in the championship, whereas Norris was in a season-long battle with both Ferrari drivers for 5th.

Ferrari had a car that was able to record consistent points throughout. They took home double figures in points in all but three rounds – France, Belgium, and Portugal. In France, as already mentioned, they took no points, and at Spa only half points were given out.

Whilst there were no wins, Ferrari took five podium finishes, four from Sainz and one from Leclerc. McLaren also took five podiums, including a win, but at other tracks they lacked race pace or were unlucky, seeing them drop points.

A poor end to the season undid some of the strong work from before, meaning that, in the end, Ferrari were comfortable in third position.

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Next season, both teams will be hoping to push on to try to challenge at the front consistently. Although McLaren did slip away towards the end of the season, this year proved a real return to form, and they will be hoping to continue that next year with the new regulations.

Ferrari, too, will be hoping to make use of this strong season to kick on, and challenge at the front again.

This battle for 3rd in the constructors was a great sight for racing fans this season, with two massive teams with big history fighting it out. Let us hope that both are challenging more for the title next year with the new regulations.

Featured Image Credit: McLaren on Twitter 

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