Binotto explains Leclerc strategy


Mattia Binotto has explained the reasoning behind the decision not to pit Charles Leclerc during the safety car period that followed Esteban Ocon's retirement.

At the time, the Monegasque, who had just been passed by his teammate, was on hards, but as the safety car was deployed Ferrari only called on teammate Carlos Sainz to pit, switching the Spaniard to softs for the final stint, as did Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton.

This meant that when the race restarted Leclerc was going to be vulnerable to attack.

Sure enough, despite his best efforts he was soon passed by Sainz, and while he fought valiantly to hold off Hamilton, entertaining fans with one of the most thrilling battles of the race, it was a fight he could never win.

Asked why the team didn't pit him as opposed to Sainz or even double-stack them, team boss, Mattia Binotto said: "There was not a sufficient gap to stop both of them, because the second would have lost time at the pit stop and would have fallen back on-track.

"Why then by deciding to stop only one, why we decided to stop Carlos?" he continued. "Because Charles had got the track position. He was leading, so he would have remained the leader of the race.

"His tyres were fresher compared to the ones of Carlos. He had I think six or seven laps less laps to the one of Carlos in a better shape. And Carlos, by stopping and being second, he would have protected at least in the first couple of corners where we knew that starting on the hard, it would have been a bit more difficult. That was the reason why we decided.

"Then we were hoping for more tyre degradation on the softs," he admitted, "to give Charles maybe a difficult three or four laps initially but then recovering later on, but the soft didn't degrade as we were hoping.

"If we would have stopped, maybe the other ones may have stayed out, and they would have maybe been fourth on soft tyres with other cars ahead of him," the Italian continued.

"Would he have recovered the positions? I'm not sure. I think with the hindsight, it's always easy to say we could have done differently. We had once again a safety car at the wrong moment where we were comfortably leading the race at that point."

In the moments after the race, Binotto was seen on conversation with Leclerc, at one stage 'wagging' his finger, thereby suggesting that the Monegasque was questioning the team's strategy.

"I knew that he was disappointed and frustrated," said Binotto, "which is understandable because he was leading clearly the race and he was comfortable going very fast at the time when the safety car came out. And for him today was a great opportunity in terms of championship because he was leading while Max had some problems.

"So then the safety car came out, he had a difficult, let me say, end of the of the race and no doubt he was disappointed.

"So when I met him, I knew he was disappointed. But what I told him is 'you did a fantastic race once again, because you did a fantastic first lap of the race battling'.

"And then after the restart behind the safety car again, the way he was driving and protecting position is amazing and outstanding.

"So I told him simply to stay calm, because the way he drove was fantastic.

"He has been once again unlucky today, because a safety car when you are leading a few laps to the end, is somehow bad luck. And I think that overall that's why the reason I think we simply tried not to be too disappointed."

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Published: 03/07/2022
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