Ferrari Strategy - Compromised Opportunity
In yesterday’s British grand prix Carlos Sainz managed to achieve his first F1 victory after pole position on Saturday. Despite that and lots of track action, Ferrari pit wall and their strategy begs the question, how many errors does it take to get a decent strategy?
Failing to keep the lead first time after the restart Sainz was quick enough to block Verstappen and keep the lead. They did battle for almost half the race and Verstappen got the lead at one point, but a floor damage slowed him from top runners.
Since Verstappen was out from the picture and his teammate Perez was battling through the grid, it was not wrong to hope a Ferrari 1 2. The only threat was Lewis Hamilton, who was running 3rd.
Title contender Charles Leclerc running in 2nd, despite bit of front wing damage was putting quicker lap times than race leader Sainz while Hamilton was catching up. With half race still on, a good call would’ve been to swap positions and let Leclerc through and let Sainz defend Hamilton. If Leclerc can’t put good lap times, they can always swap back in pitstop.
Ferrari pit wall was undecided for couple of laps and both teammates started battling for win, which allowed Hamilton to get very close. They didn’t swap places and kept fighting.
Sainz was first to pit for Ferrari from lead. Leclerc pitted after some laps, leaving Hamilton to lead the British GP and first time leading a race in 2022. Surprisingly Leclerc came out behind Sainz even after good pace, but with much fresher tyre.
It was now question when will Hamilton pit and will he be ahead of the Ferrari pair. He was keeping the pit window gap comfortably in 30 laps old tyre. Ferrari now allowed to swap positions so Leclerc can catch up to Hamilton. Hamilton pitted not long after, a pit error did cost him fighting for the lead. But he was now gaining time again with much fresher tyre.
Ferrari got a lifeline when safety car deployed on lap 40. Sainz and Hamilton pitted for new set of softs, and to everyone’s surprise pit wall did not call Leclerc in. There was 6 seconds window from pit entry to call Leclerc. Sainz right behind him was called, perhaps again they were undecided or just slow. Yes, double stacking meant Hamilton may gain 1 place, but with 10 laps to go it is sprint race to finish line.
Leclerc had another chance to pit next lap. At that moment he would lose a position to Hamilton but he could battle in restart. Pit wall still did not call him in. it was certain that moment he is not going to win, but his podium hope was also going away. Hamilton and Perez were on brand new softs behind.
In restart Ferrari strategy was to make Sainz defend Hamilton and Perez while Leclerc builds a gap. Which Sainz didn’t follow and rightfully so. He immediately passed Leclerc in restart, it was his day and he shouldn’t ruin it for bad strategy call. Perez was very fast to pass Hamilton, Leclerc fought bravely but the Mexican was too fast in corners with new tyre.
In end after nail biting battle, Leclerc lost the final podium place to Hamilton and came out 4th ahead of Alonso.
This perhaps was a show of Ferrari defensive strategy. Its unexplainable why they had the need to abandon one driver in end so one can win the race when both could be finishing 1 2 after the restart. It is not a good view to see their title contender to not get a proper strategy, even after he was leading race. Ferrari should really look the bigger picture of winning championship. So far, their strategy hasn’t been to win it. Ferrari has made many bad calls in crucial moments which costed them podium and wins in recent years.
Leclerc gained only 6 points on the championship gap from Verstappen, which could’ve been more.