Mattia Binotto hails the work of the strategists in F1 Abu Dhabi GP after the criticism they had all the year, as it benefitted Charles Leclerc to second.

An amusing story emerged after F1 Abu Dhabi GP where Ferrari outfoxed Red Bull in terms of tyre strategy. Leclerc got ahead of Sergio Perez by making one stop less than the Mexican and they played a dummy call on their rivals by radio messages played to suggest that the team were thinking about two stops when the plan always was for one.

As it was, it was clinical and crucial insofar as the Monagasque nipped ahead in the race to finish in second place on the day and the championship itself. Perez pitted on Lap 15 and Leclerc stretched out for more laps. Towards the mid point of the race, the Ferrari driver closed on the Mexican. Ferrari called for “box opposite Perez”.

It was to mean that Leclerc was only to pit if Perez didn’t, but that was more a call to play a bluff on Red Bull. It was something of a master stroke for a team who have had their strategy criticised quite often over the course of the campaign. Binotto and his team of strategists have always been played upon by pundits and fans.

But in Abu Dhabi GP, it came together for Ferrari with the pace also enough to secure second. “I think that certainly the dummy call on the Red Bull was a fantastic call from the pits,” said Binotto to media. “I think it’s great for the team It is great for the strategists, and it is great having done a solid race weekend this weekend”.

“I think P2 and P2 [in the drivers’ and constructors’ championship] has been the balance of the entire season, not only today. But today certainly we did the proper job. The dummy pitstop on the Red Bull was the right call. And I think that overall, we made it right. So happy for them, happy for the team. I think that as well Ferrari, when it is making mistakes, there is always a lot of criticism”.

“But, as well, I know that these guys can do very well,” summed up Binotto. Meanwhile the person who benefited most was of course Leclerc and he duly took second in the road and the overall standings.  He too was a satisfied individual at the outcome.

“We executed the right one, and the one with the most pressure,” said Leclerc. “Obviously, the outside pressure with all the rumours going around coming into the weekend, and the pressure of keeping the second place in the drivers’ and constructors’ championship”.

“We managed to perform at our best in a situation like this, which makes me very proud of the team. I don’t think that in pure pace we were stronger than Red Bull. I think Red Bull was still stronger than we were. But we pushed them into doing mistakes and pushed them into two stops and eventually that paid off. So we’re very happy.”

It was a great start to the campaign for the Maranello fraternity. As it was they did have a lean spell but second in each championship was not shabby at all. They, like the rest of the paddock can now look forward to a bit of respite over the winter months.

Here’s Ferrari ending 1-2-3 in Abu Dhabi Test

Here’s Charles Leclerc on one-stop plan