Charles Leclerc had a nightmare run in the end in F1 British GP while Carlos Sainz prevailed well, as Frederic Vasseur expands on the situation.

What started off well for Ferrari’s Leclerc in F1 British GP where he jumped from 11th to seventh, turned out to be a nightmare after a pit call which ruined his grand prix. The initial droplets of rain was seen as a chance of a podium fightback by Ferrari.

But it turned to dust when the spell ended early before the larger and stronger rain cell, which was too late for any chance of a revival. Leclerc was forced to drive around at the back of the field after a collective decision which went wrong.

He would have been a certain sixth without that call but it culminated another difficult weekend where he had to run a different spec early on and revert to a more predictable one, which his teammate Sainz had been on since the start of it.

Vasseur noted that they took the call as a gamble after he dropped several seconds behind in the Top 6 battle, but one that didn’t work out. It was plain running on Sainz’s side, though, who took the call to not pit when Leclerc pitted for intermediate.

That allowed Sainz to be in the podium game but eventually the pace of Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren was too much for any chance of a podium. The Spaniard was pleased with the calls made on his side of the garage, even though there was visible lack of pace.

Strategy call –

Leclerc: “It was clearly the wrong strategy. I’ll look back into it. Obviously, with the decision, with the message I got and the information I had in the car, I felt like it was the right one. It was raining quite a lot in Turn 15. I was told that in this lap, the rain was going to be very heavy, so I stopped to try and anticipate. However, the rain came eight or nine laps later. That was obviously the end of our race from that moment onwards. Very frustrating, another weekend to forget, and it starts to be a lot. This period is very hard. I don’t really have the words to explain it, but it’s been four races that it’s been worse than a nightmare. I hope we can come back soon. It’s very difficult to pick up positives on days like this. I just want to go back with the team, that we analyse the way we are making those decisions on my side, and why were we on the wrong side.”

Sainz: “To be honest, I had studied the weather with my engineers so I was confident going into the race that we were capable of getting the calls right. We did some good runs in FP1 and FP2 to measure the conditions and make sure we were fully ready and we executed a perfect race. Honestly, all the calls were pretty much spot on, all the tyres, all the radio calls. It was just a shame we were not faster in the first part of the race, or on the inters or at the end because I feel like we would have been 100% in the fight for the podium or the win. But very happy.

“A bonus point at the end with the fastest lap, so we need to be happy. For me, once the engineers told me the intensity of the rain and how long it was going to last, it was a clear ‘survive’. I knew from FP how wet the track was going to get with that intensity. I caught the leaders by six-or-seven seconds and put myself in the battle for the podium with Max at the time. Just unfortunate that I wasn’t closer at the beginning or the end because it was one of the races where I feel like I could have had a good chance.”

Vasseur: “We are giving them information and proposing the fact that at one stage they have to pit. They have to have the last call on the situation and I have discussed with Charles. It can be disappointing when you see the result at the end. It is clear it was not the right call, but I will say that it was motivated by at that stage, we were already 15 seconds behind Carlos. It meant that consciously, the only way to come back and fight for the podium is to be a bit aggressive with the decision. For sure, it is not the right call because I think we would finish P6 and collectively, we took this decision. I don’t want to say it is a good because the reality is it is not a good one.

“But I am not upset with this because on the same lap, Hamilton went wide at Turn 1, Russell went wide at Turn 1, another car went wide at Turn 15. It was really on the edge of becoming a very good call and when you are in that situation of being in the leading group, you will never take this risk. You will copy the others. Regarding Carlos, in these conditions, quite often it’s the driver who’s in control of the situation. If it’s more than one lap, you have the lap time of the others, but it’s one lap too late or one lap too early. We can give them indications about the situation, but for sure after the race you can say that it would have been better for Norris and for Carlos to pit one lap before. But I can’t bring my crystal ball on the pitwall.”

Maximum result –

Sainz: “We did the maximum. I am happy with the race because even if we were not fast enough in full dry or full wet conditions, we got all the pitstop calls right, especially in the middle of the race when it was slicks-on-wet, I managed to catch the podium positions by six-or-seven seconds in those conditions that I always enjoy. We put ourselves in the fight for the podium but unfortunately, as soon as it got full wet or full dry, we were just not quick enough.”

Vasseur: “It is difficult to say after the result but we did a step forward this weekend. From a technical side, we have a better understanding of the situation on Sunday evening than on Friday morning. This is encouraging for the rest of the season. For sure, the result is not ideal because we compromised the result yesterday more than today. Carlos did a solid race and was able to come back at Max in the first stint and had laps on Max’s gearbox on mediums at the beginning of the race. On Charles, it was a bit more chaotic. He was stuck behind Stroll, was behind – 10 seconds – and when we had the first call for the pitstop, it was a bit on the edge and we collectively were a bit too aggressive.”

Difficult situation for/with Leclerc –

Leclerc: “It’s a tricky situation that we’re in at the moment. The upgrades brought us the numbers that we were expecting but also brought us quite a lot of bouncing in the high-speed. For a track like this we decided that it was probably better having a bit less performance but having more consistency, and I think that was the right choice. Going forward, we’ll analyse all the data we had until now with the two packages and try to understand if there’s anything we haven’t understood yet. The bouncing was [better], so the consistency was better.”

Vasseur: “First, we have to avoid to try to draw a generic conclusion on what’s happened. We need to have a deep look on everything. I think the car, the last two races, was at least not easy to drive. It was asking a lot to the drivers. Mainly for yesterday, Charles had the new package on Friday, he had to jump into the car, we didn’t do FP3 with the wet, and he had to go in quali with a car that he didn’t drive before. He was in a very good shape until Turn 13. I think we spoke together about this yesterday, but he was faster than Russell until Turn 13. We were really at the limit of the car, and the car was not easy to drive in these conditions. You make more mistakes probably than when it’s under control.

“And it’s true that as soon as you have a kind of bad momentum, let’s call it like this, you have a feeling that you have to compensate. And this is a mistake from the team, from the drivers, from everybody, because you can’t compensate, basically you have to be at the limit. It means that if something if going a bit less good, you can’t do more than you are doing before. It’s part of the reason of the call today on the strategy: it’s that starting P11, Charles had a very good start, but he came back behind Stroll, he lost 10 seconds behind Stroll. And at one stage, when you are 15 seconds off Carlos or Verstappen, you know that if you don’t do something mega, you won’t come back. It’s probably part of the issue, but I had a long discussion with Charles, we agreed on this, and we’ll come back to the reason soon.”

Here’s how F1 British GP panned out

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