The victory of disaster. Charles Leclerc did not put it that way, but we can without betraying him sum up his thoughts at the end of a British Grand Prix where he missed a tremendous opportunity to win and make up part of his delay on his rival for the title, Max Verstappen (Red Bull), only Seventh.
British Grand Prix
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On Sunday at Silverstone, Ferrari worked on Carlos Sainz’s first Formula 1 victory, almost exclusively, and at least it got its way. But the rest was the most important, and she knowingly sacrificed her lead driver twice by arbitrating her strategic choices to her detriment.
On the 16th of the 52 laps of the race, the driver from the Principality found himself less than half a second behind his teammate, in the lead after the Max Verstappen (Red Bull) puncture, with the legitimacy of a better pace and the hope of benefiting from a locker from his low wall.
Leclerc honks behind Sainz for 7 laps
“What should I do? I’m compromising my race!”quickly grumbled the driver of F1 75 n°16, on the radio, while Sainz zigzagged in front of him…
The Scuderia took two laps to react, and give Sainz an ultimatum: ride in 1’32”8 or let Leclerc take the lead. By showing his bias: “You have to speed up!”, launched the Sainz engineer on the 19th lap. And Leclerc to wait, and to curse by dropping on the radio: “I’m wasting time!” But the dice were loaded, and there was no question of a reversal of positions, since the Spaniard was called to his pit on the 20th lap. Four laps before “Charlot”, who again found himself behind, with the “freedom to fight”as informed by his engineer.
“Whatever happens, we’re wasting time on Lewis Hamilton,” said Charles Leclerc one last time, before the red pit decided to hand over the instructions to Carlos Sainz, who was too slow even with his new set of rubbers. In the mind of Charles Leclerc, the damage was already done, because he should never have led under the threat of Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
And then, the Monegasque experienced another disavowal from his pit wall, when the Alpine of Esteban Ocon triggered an intervention of the safety car, at the 39th lap. It was the Scuderia that Mattia Binotto refused to bring in its two drivers, and favor Carlos Sainz. Equipped with “soft” tires for the last laps, the Spaniard had no trouble overtaking his worn “hard” teammate.
Binotto’s strange justification
On Canal +, Charles Leclerc did not hide his perplexity, in a very restrained anger. Usually talkative, the former world No. 1 was pithy: “We could”he answered when asked if Ferrari should have put new tires on both machines for the final sprint. “After I was asked to stay on track, that’s what I did”. After confirming that this is what he discussed with Mattia Binotto upon arrival – “Yes, among others” -, he said, he delivered the bottom of his thought.
12 points against 6 to Max Verstappen, the account was not there, in his mind and that of many observers. “I’m very, very disappointed, very disappointed, I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time. But hey, we’ll look at it with the team. But very disappointed….”he let go, in a hurry to leave.
However, we are awaiting new justifications for these surprising choices from Ferrari, and unlike the Monaco Grand Prix, Mattia Binotto did not recognize his choices as a mistake. “We thought there was no room to stop with the two, so we had to make a choice.exposed the team director to Canal +. If we had stopped both, Carlos would have lost positions on the others (note: he would have waited at the stand behind Leclerc). He couldn’t have been there to fight or protect Charles. We had to choose one of the two, we chose Carlos. We let Charles out, because he was in the lead, and he would have maintained the position. We knew that the ‘tender’ (from Sainz) were fast but we hoped they would degrade, which they didn’t.”
This last choice of Ferrari will undoubtedly cause a lot of ink to flow because it is difficult to adhere to the thesis according to which Charles Leclerc could hold in front in worn “hard” rubber. A Leclerc-Sainz double was possible but Maranello may have retreated before the double threat posed by Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), ultimately second and third.
On the evening of this tenth round of the world championship, the situation of Charles Leclerc has not changed much compared to the leader, Max Verstappen. The Monte-Carlo native closed within 43 lengths of the Dutchman and lost ground to Sergio Pérez, who was nine lengths ahead of him.
Credit: Getty Images
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