Charles Leclerc was fine with the team role in F1 Austrian GP after swapping with Carlos Sainz, as Mattia Binotto puts down track layout as France and Austria difference.

The F1 Austrian GP for the team in red ended with them scratching their head regarding tyre usage, team order, and incidents on track. Both Ferrari drivers started 11th and 12th, however both finished in the points positions at the end of the race, with Sainz in fifth and Leclerc eighth.

While team orders are not uncommon, in the Austrian GP the orders given were due to the different tire strategies of their drivers. In this case, Leclerc was asked to move aside from Sainz in order for the Spaniard to pass Ricciardo and also to get through to the Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Later in the race, Leclerc’s tyres had worn out and he wasn’t able to get past Ricciardo. It was an order given by Ferrari to do so, which the Monegasque agreed upon to help Ferrari maximize their opportunities on a better race result, especially after fighting with McLaren the whole season.

“We were strong with the race pace but obviously we didn’t have the tyre advantage of the reverse strategy, so it was very-very difficult to overtake,” said Leclerc. “I thought I had the opportunity to pass Ricciardo at one point because I felt, I was very close for few laps. They asked me to swap the car because he [Sainz] had the tyre advantage.”

With this swap, Sainz was able to use his fresher tire to catch Ricciardo and also to end up just a half a second inside the ten second time penalty of Perez, to eventually gain three places. He went from eighth to fifth, a strong recovery from 14th where he started on lap 1 with the hard compound.

“I wasn’t expecting to struggle as much as I did with the hard tyre, maybe the cooler temps or something made the hard a bit more difficult in the initial laps,” said Sainz. “And after that I managed to put together a strong stint to go long on the hard, and I put a medium on at the end to be able to attack, I mean that stint was fun, I’m not going to lie, always when you are on the hunt and when you are chasing it’s always good fun.”

Regarding his attack on Ricciardo, Sainz added: “I managed to pull out a couple of moves, especially also obviously thanks to Charles who let me by to go attack Ricciardo and we managed to make it speak and get a couple of extra points. Pace was strong, my confidence with the car, maybe not as good as last week, because we were struggling a bit more with balance and temperatures but overall a nice double-header here in Austria and nice triple-header for me which gives me confidence going into the last two before summer.”

Although Leclerc felt as if the result was “frustrating in the car because [he] felt like [he] had a lot more pace but [he] couldn’t use it”, he finished eighth, within the points. Sainz on the other hand stated that “we were able to put together a very strong P5 finish, very happy”.

Ferrari team boss Binotto, was happy with the all-round effort of the team, especially on the back of the French GP, where the team scored less than optimally. “Fifth place for Carlos Sainz has been a good race result, but with our car’s characteristics, its difficult to do more or better,” he said to written media.

“Charles Leclerc could have done better if he had no difficulties in overtaking Perez as that is part of the racing as well, but overall I think it’s a good team result. Good team spirits, I think when we asked Charles to swap with Carlos at the end, he did it immediately with no discussion, and that is showing really that both drivers understand the importance of the team, and how important it is for the team to score the maximum points. I think the result of today again is showing that the fact that we used mediums in qualifying and not going into the softs has been the right choice. And again credit to the strategic team and engineering group, making the right choice,” summed up Binotto.

It could be said that team spirit was strong with the Tifosi after the Austrian GP, especially coming off from the French GP, a low point in the season for the team. McLaren scored well in these three rounds with their top driver Lando Norris, extending the gap in the fight for third in the championship.

The recovery in Austria was better for Ferrari and Binotto felt the track layout played a bigger part in the different result for their car. “It is more down to the track layout rather than a different approach,” he said. “Here we see on paper that the circuit is not is not the best for our car where you need speed in the straights, which still we are lacking.”

“I think that our good grip limited performance has made the fact that we have had a good race pace both weekends in Austria, but again I don’t think it’s down to a different approach, coming into Austria in Week 1, we tried to focus on the race stints to make sure that we didn’t fall into the same situation of Paul Ricard, but I don’t think that is the answer, I think it is simply the circuits,” summed up Binotto.

The article was written by Neeladri Nag

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