Ferrari tactics: Why doesn’t Leclerc stop?

British Grand Prix 2022

Ferrari is responsible for the drama this year. Even if I win. Carlos Sainz celebrated his first win on his 150th Grand Prix start. The sudden safety and strategy car split cost Charles Leclerc 13 points.

Finally Ferrari won again. For the first time since the Australian Grand Prix. For the first time with Carlos Sainz. Everything good immediately happened to the 27-year-old Spaniard. First place, first win. And after 150 GP appearances are waiting. Sainz may have been in the lead longer than any other driver on the field, but it wasn’t until the last ten laps after the safety car period that he really looked like a winner.

Until Esteban Ocon set out on the run of the old house, Charles Leclerc had the best cards in hand. It was the third world championship fastest among Ferrari’s drivers, although his F1-75 team lost the right front wing end plate in turbulence at the start after colliding with Sergio Perez. According to engineers, that costs five points of compressive strength. On lap 31, Sainz was asked to make room for his teammate after he was unable to set a target time of 1m32.2s.

Sainz as a buffer for Leclerc

Ferrari then played the Leclerc full card, using Sainz as a hedge against Lewis Hamilton, who ran from behind after a late stop. Hamilton’s tires were fresher than Sainz’s at 13 laps and compared to Leclerc’s at nine. But the eight-time winner at Silverstone was 6.1 seconds behind leader Leclerc and 2.6 seconds behind second Ferrari with 15 laps to go. “We would have had Sainz. It was difficult with Leclerc,” Mercedes engineers assessed the situation.

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The safety car after Ocon’s retirement turned everything upside down. Ferrari had three options with its double lead. Only one of the drivers stops at a time, or both. The strategists under Inaki Rueda chose one, but from Leclerc’s view of the error. The two-time season winner is given better chances in the title race against Verstappen. When the Red Bull driver plunged into the midfield with lower body damage, it was a golden opportunity to make up some points.

Ferrari celebrated Sainz’s first win.

The wait was only going to cost Sainz a place

Leclerc was asked to stay on track with his solid tyres. This sealed his defeat. At the start of the second half he could not defend himself against the drivers with soft tires behind him. It was a small miracle that he only lost two places to Sainz and Hamilton. Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris also came a short distance away from taking advantage of their tire advantage.

Team principal Mattia Binotto defended the decision to favor Sainz. “Our drivers were very close to each other. One had to wait for the other and lost places in the process. Charles’ tires were fresher, he was the leader and we didn’t want to give up the position. With Carlos off we knew we could use him to protect Charles from Hamilton.”

In fact, Sainz would only have lost one place to Hamilton by waiting in clearance behind his stablemate. Alonso and Norris were more than 40 seconds behind. Ferrari also had no fear that Mercedes would have kept his man on the right track if Leclerc had instigated. “Compared to Ferrari, we had a lot of problems warming our tyres. Lewis didn’t have a chance with the hard tyres after restarting against the other tyres on the soft tyres. It was always clear to us that we had to use the safety car in all conditions. The shift would have worked. to soft tyres.

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Leclerc only made 6 points

Only once that day did Sainz disobey orders from his command post. When asked to leave Leclerc at the start of the second half, he answered on the radio: “I’ll take care of it. Let me do it.” At that moment, the Spaniard realized that the great opportunity to win his first Grand Prix had come. “I wanted to get past Charles before the sixth turn to get away in advance and not get in Charles’ way so he could better defend himself against the others.”

Fernando Alonso - Carlos Sainz - Formula 1 - British Grand Prix - 3 July 2022

Citizen Fernando Alonso was among the first to congratulate Sainz.

In fact, with the softer rubber better grip, it accelerated past the sister car at the exit of Turn 5. By the time Leclerc, Hamilton, Perez, Alonso and Norris agreed on the right of way in the battle for second place, the eventual winner was already 3.8 seconds ahead.

Leclerc was upset after the race. “We understand Charles was disappointed. He was comfortably in front in front of the safety car. He defended himself admirably against others on his solid tires,” praised Binotto. But at the end of the season, Ferrari may be asking itself whether this decision was wise. Leclerc could have made 19 points on Verstappen. So there were only six. Ferrari could have finished first and third. So it was only in rank 1 and 4.

Sainz believed in himself

Binotto is now hoping the win will give his second driver a boost and Sainz be able to collect vital points from Red Bull going forward. “Carlos may not have been the fastest driver on the track this weekend, but he took most of his chances. That’s his strength.” The England GP winner was compensated for many disappointments: “I could have won in Monaco and Canada. It had to happen at some point. You shouldn’t stop believing in yourself.

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