During the late safety car at the British Grand Prix, why did Ferrari bring in Carlos Sainz and not Charles Leclerc to give him fresh soft tires for the closing stages? Not only Ferrari fans asked themselves this question during the Formula 1 race at Silverstone on Sunday.
When the safety car came in towards the end of the race, Ferrari left leader Leclerc out on hard tires and stopped Carlos Sainz to switch to the soft tyres, a strategy shared by almost every other driver in the field.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto later confirmed that the team didn’t want to pit their cars back-to-back, leaving Leclerc out as he had a better track position and younger tires than Sainz.
Ferrari strategy also a mystery for Leclerc
Leclerc, who had been driving with a damaged front wing since the start, was an easy victim when restarting on the hard tires. Despite stubborn resistance, he lost places to Sainz, Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and finally fell back to fourth place.
After getting out of his car at Parc Ferme, Leclerc had a brief chat with Binotto before facing the media. “I don’t want to comment on that now, I just want to discuss with the team what caused it,” he commented on the decision not to bring his car to the pits.
“Obviously I had the feeling that I was very strong in the first part of the race and lost a little time,” analyzes Leclerc, who was temporarily stuck behind Sainz in the first half of the race. “I don’t think that would have changed anything in the end result, but we have to check everything for the future.”
Leclerc: “The race was a rollercoaster ride”
When asked if he said anything over the radio about a possible stop, he replies: “No, because it was very late and the team said I should stay out. So of course I can’t come in unless we meet agree and that’s it.”
His conversation with Binotto after the race only served to “cheer me up,” Leclerc emphasizes. “But of course I’m very disappointed. The race was a rollercoaster ride. I broke my front wing on the first lap and then I thought it was over because I had quite a bit of understeer.”
“Then I managed to play around with the settings so the front felt better and then the pace came back and we were very strong. The win seemed more and more likely but then the safety car came and that was it. It is frustrating.”
Battle for the podium to the bitter end
Nevertheless, he enjoyed the late fight for his position, especially the duel with Hamilton. “I don’t know how much you saw of it, but it was pretty much on the limit,” the Ferrari driver looks back on the final phase. “I had to drive to the limit to keep my position, which I did.”
“I don’t think I could have done much better than that. It was fun. On the other hand I was very frustrated,” admits the Monegasque, who tried to defend himself tooth and nail on his hard tires. “It was all very tricky, so I had to use everything that was possible.”
“I always made sure Lewis was a little behind at the apex to stay within the rules. I tried to do my best.” Because Leclerc didn’t want to give up hope of a podium: “I still thought that everything was possible.”
“It wasn’t enough in the end, but even though I knew it was going to be very, very difficult, I believed in it until the last lap.” Despite his own frustration, he was happy about his teammate’s first Grand Prix victory: “Of course, and I think that’s an important point.”
“As much as I’m disappointed on my part, the attention should be on this amazing first victory by Carlos. It’s a dream come true. As a kid, you dream of this moment, especially with Ferrari, so he has to enjoy it. It’s his day , and hopefully it will be my day next time.”