Charles Leclerc and Mattia Binotto reflect on what happened in F1 Hungarian GP and what made the team choose the strategy they opted for.
What looked like a good grand prix for Ferrari and Leclerc turned upside down when they switched from mediums to hard tyres for his supposed last stint. It didn’t work for them at all as he not lost the chance to win, but also the chance to be on the podium.
The first team to switch to the hard tyres were the Alpine pair and it looked like the compound was not working in the cooler conditions. But Ferrari still went ahead with it with the idea that the tyre would start working well after about 10 laps.
However, it didn’t deliver as expected and Leclerc was forced to switch to the soft tyres. The Monegasque, though, wanted to remain on the medium tyres as he could sense that it was working well, but then stuck with the pre-decided strategy.
Here’s what Binotto and Leclerc said after the race:
Need to use hard tyres –
Binotto: “I think the main reason, before to come why we decided for the hard tyre, I think it’s important to say that we believe that the car was not working as expected and we didn’t have the speed we were hoping for looking back at the Friday and the pace we had in the race conditions on Friday. So today was certainly different conditions, a lot cooler. But overall the speed today was not great enough, and whatever tyres we were using, I don’t think we were as good as we were looking for and as good as we were in practice. Certainly even worse with the hard. So when we fitted the hard, our simulation was that it could have been a difficult couple of laps of warm-up, it would have been slower to the medium for 10-11 laps, and then it would have come back and been faster than the end of the stint, and it was a 30-lap stint. We fitted the hard tyres at the time because with a 30-lap stint, we were trying to protect position on Max.
“It would have been too long certainly for the softs. Our choice and analysis, yes, it would have been difficult at the start of the stint, but it would have come back by the end. I know we were not working as well on other cars, but still the analysis we made was good and I think that as I said before, the main reason is not to look into the strategy, but why the car was not as good as we were hoping today. The car was, for the first time this season, the car was not as competitive as we were normally looking for. It’s the case as well with Carlos, Carlos was on exactly the same strategy as Lewis, he was starting ahead but finishing behind, and Lewis finished 10 seconds. So the car today was not performing well, and if the car is not performing, then it doesn’t make the tyres perform as they should, and certainly not the hard tyres.”
Red Bull, Mercedes didn’t use but why Ferrari –
Binotto: “As I said before, because based on our data and our analysis, we knew that the hard was not as great as the medium, but it could have been faster after 11 laps into the stint and it was a 30-lap stint. So yes, they didn’t work as we were hoping today in the race. We would not have fitted them if we knew they would have been as bad today. Overall, they didn’t work. Why they didn’t work, again it’s back to explanations, why the car was not as fast as something, let me say, wrong with the car, we set it up for the conditions of today, that make as well harder tyres, harder life to the tyres themselves, and as a consequence, certainly the hard was working very bad.”
Alpine’s struggles didn’t change mind –
Binotto: “Yes, we discussed it, so it’s not that it’s all written in stone. During the race and looking at what’s going on, we have as well looked at what was happening with the other hard tyres. We took all considerations, we discussed what would have been best and that’s the choice that we made. It certainly was not the right one today.”
Any initial explanation why it didn’t work –
Binotto: “No, I do not have an explanation. It’s something we will try to look at all the data this week before we go to the summer break for holidays. Certainly it was something not working properly, because as I said again, if I look at the balance of the first 12 races of the season, 13 races of the season, it’s the first time we were not competitive and not fighting for the win. And on Friday, the car was working well. So there is something which made hard life to the tyres which is not clear to us right now.”
Leclerc wanted to extend on medium –
Binotto: “At first, I think we had a long discussion in the Sunday morning meeting together with the drivers, what we were doing, and why maybe Charles’ comment is we would have stayed out on the medium, we will meet him and discuss once again. We win and we lose altogether, and why we stopped was simply to protect the position against Max, as simple as that.”
Thoughts on race and decision –
Leclerc: “I made it clear that the medium I wanted to keep it as long as possible, but we pitted very early for the hard, much earlier than we need to. Obviously, a race like this is frustrating. And need to get better as a whole. You know, it always feels like there’s always something going on, whatever is, reliability, mistakes, whatever. But we need to be better putting a weekend together. We will try and use the few days that we have to reset, but obviously also to analyse and to understand where we need to be better, and what we can do to get better, because this is extremely important.
Graining on soft and medium tyres –
Leclerc: “On the medium it was very good. Honestly, the feeling was really good. Tyres were always working well. On the soft, yes, but we had to pit quite early, because hard was just incredibly difficult. So, the soft was the only tire left. And we grained at the end, but nothing that surprised me.”
Cold weather –
Leclerc: “I don’t think so because the pace was very good today, on the medium, on a tire that was strong it was really good. But then on the hard obviously we lost all the pace. So we did one stop more than everybody losing 20 seconds plus the five or six laps on the hard where we were losing a second per lap. So this is a lot of race time. So yeah.”
Starting on medium tyres –
Leclerc: “I think starting on a medium was the right choice, I think stopping for the hard was the turning point of the race.”
Here’s how F1 Hungarian GP panned out