Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admits that clear mistakes were made by the Scuderia in Monaco, especially at the expense of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc’s race.
Leclerc led the first stint of the race up until Lap 18 from pole position, after an eventual rolling start which commenced in the wake of a 45 minute start delay. Sergio Perez had been brought in two laps prior and successfully pulled off an undercut on Leclerc.
However the worst was arguably yet to come for Leclerc’s race when Ferrari brought him into the pits right behind his teammate Carlos Sainz for a double-stack pit stop, which the team quickly tried to correct by calling him to stay out when the Monegasque was already committed to entering the pit lane.
He subsequently lost a lot of time behind his teammate in the pit lane, which was made all-the-more hapless when Red Bull pulled off a successful double-stack of their own a lap later to perform a textbook undercut on the Ferrari pair.
“At first I think we need to admit that if you are leading the race and finding yourself in the first positions, we may have done something wrong [to lose that position],” said Binotto when asked about the reasoning behind Leclerc’s erroneous pit call. We certainly made mistakes in our judgements and we made mistakes in our calls.
“What the process was that brought us to make mistakes was that we were underestimating I think the pace of the intermediates and the gap we had to the other cars in terms of track position. The process I think is still something we need to look at, we just had our briefing with the drivers, we went through it…it was not an obvious one, [but] we should have called him in earlier,” said the Ferrari chief.
Binotto went on to explain how the team saw opportunities when the race reached the intermediate to dry tyre pace crossover period, and how they believed that the hard tyres were the safer option in getting both of their cars to the finish in a race where track position is usually more important than tyre strategy.
“We did [the double-stack] at that time because we knew that the dry tyres were significantly faster and we believed it could be a good opportunity for us to undercut the Red Bulls, so an opposite situation to when they first pitted on intermediates trying to undercut us, then we did the same with the dries,” said Binotto.
“I think the main reason was we believed we were right in that respect that the mediums would have had graining, and that the hard tyres were a lot more resilient and give us more opportunity at the end of the stint. While [the Red Bulls had] clear graining they were slowing down significantly. We know in Monaco it’s very difficult to overtake but we think the hard tyres were the right choice. It would have been a rolling start anyhow so you do not have the benefit of the start and you’re not on the first lap.”
Second-placed finisher Sainz, although on the matching strategy to Leclerc in the latter dry stint of the race, made the unusual strategy move consisting of a switch from the extreme wet tyres to slick tyres work. A strategy which, on paper, looks to go against the grain was actually discussed prior to the race, reveals Binotto.
“It was a scenario we discussed between us before the race,” he says. “It already happened in the past, I think it was Hamilton in Monaco on extremes switching directly to dries, so I think it’s something which we aware of and was part of the discussions we had and the judgement that would have been necessary during the race, the drivers called in that respect because they’ve got the feeling of the track. I don’t think it distracted us, I think the reason why we made mistakes is not coming from that.
“There were circumstances in which we make life more difficult, but we have not been great at judging and deciding [this season]. I’m pretty sure it’s a situation that will make us stronger. We are pretty aware that being competitive is a fact, winning is another task and it’s another level of difficulty. And I think as a team we are still progressing, learning, and maybe it will take some more time.”
Here’s Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz on their Monaco fight
Here’s Alexander Albon on holding up Charles Leclerc, Ferrari being upset
Here’s why FIA rejected Ferrari protest