Charles Leclerc gone through painkillers and endured a wrong strategy in F1 US GP to disqualification despite pole finish.
It started off well for Ferrari’s Leclerc in F1 US GP after securing pole for Sunday’s main race. It was unexpected result but the sprint already showed the troubles they could face in terms of degradation even though he finished third in the order.
There was optimism but not a strong one. As it turned out, a bit of yes and no led Ferrari firming on a one-stop strategy which didn’t work for Leclerc and he eventually dropped to finish sixth after starting from pole but it was all in vain eventually.
Post-race, Leclerc was disqualified for a technical breach. The weekend which started on a bright not with a pole ended up in disqualification. Post-race, he also revealed about using painkillers after infection in his wisdom tooth which he got at the start of the weekend.
The strategy was the main killer for Leclerc as everyone around him eventually went for a two-stop. The numbers that Ferrari predicted in their briefing wasn’t the numbers that eventually happened on the track. “Straight away from the beginning of the race we thought that the one-stop and the two-stop were extremely close together,” he said.
“After 12, 13 laps I saw the numbers on the dash and they were pretty good for the one-stop, at least in terms of degradation. I wasn’t losing that much time lap after lap. Considering our numbers, this was the right thing to do so I went for the one-stop and unfortunately this was definitely the wrong thing to do.
“For some reason there was something wrong in our numbers today because we were far off the ideal race strategy. In terms of team orders, I actually understood the choice ten seconds later when they reopened the radio and told me that Checo was behind coming back a little bit on Carlos.
“Then I understood that obviously we couldn’t afford to fight between cars. So I completely understand the reason at the end as soon as they told me I got it, and then I just get on with my race. But it was overall difficult as well, I had a tooth infection, which I think is the wisdom tooth.
“So, I was quite a lot in pain on Thursday, Friday then it calmed down and Sunday was okay. I’ve been on really big painkillers since Thursday. For some reason now it’s actually quite fine because I took the painkillers before the race. I’ve had times that were more intense, but nothing that affected me inside the car,” summed up Leclerc.
Team boss Frederic Vasseur conceded that the one stop strategy was eventually wrong for Leclerc. They expected others will undertake one stop as well but as noted above, no one around him did it eventually. “Clearly we have mixed feelings,” he said. “Because on one side of the garage with Carlos, we did pretty well.
“With Charles, who was 10 seconds in front of Carlos after 12 laps, we committed for one stop, and it was not the good choice, it’s obvious. Probably the issue is that we didn’t have a clear picture about this before the race, we were a bit hesitating, and he was a bit hesitating into the first stint, pushing or not pushing. And we made a mistake.
“It was not very clear before the race, as you can imagine. We had the two options. In terms of numbers, it was very, very close. I think where we made the mistake is that we anticipated that the field will be 50-50. And it was not at all. I think that Hamilton was not far away to do one stop, Russell, I think he went for one stop clearly.
“But as he was the last of the group, it’s much easier to change if you are last and you are in the same strategy as the others. It’s better to change and to take risks. It’s not just a matter of tenths of seconds on the tyres, it’s a matter of what the others are doing also. Because what was even more difficult with Charles was that everybody committed for the two stops.
“It means that you have much more traffic around you, because it’s not that everybody’s doing the same race as you, and you have a clean race, as you are not in the sequence, the guys are overtaking you one or two times. And each time that someone is overtaking you, you are losing two seconds. It means that when you have these two times, four guys, you are losing eight times 1.5 seconds, it’s 12 seconds for the traffic, and the picture of what users are doing.
“But it’s a mistake. I think the main issue was that we were a bit in-between. We moved quickly on the two stops with Carlos, because in the fight with Max , I think he had a bit of deg, and we decided to commit quite early on the two stops. Charles, it was less obvious,” summed up Vasseur.
In fact, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly revealed a moment he had with Leclerc ahead of the race when they were discussing strategy and the Monegasque stated of one stop, to which the Frenchman gave a surprise look and a clear no about even trying it.
“No there wasn’t,” he laughed. “The first time it came up was when Charles came up to me on the grid and said ‘Are you also going for a one-stop?’ and I was like ‘There is no f**king way I’m going for a one-stop!’ and he was like ‘OK!’
“We looked at each other and I was a bit confused by what he was saying but I think we did the best strategy we could and, from his face after, I don’t think he liked that one-stop strategy much,” summed up Gasly, who ended up sixth.
Here’s Mercedes, Ferrari on US GP DQ
Here’s what the FIA said about the DQ
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