Ferrari denies strategic mistake
“We lacked speed, we still don’t know the reason, and it was not possible to win. You don’t have to look at the strategy”, says Binotto after the fiasco in Hungary.
The hard tire was not working on Sunday on the cold asphalt of the Hungaroring. The series leader and world champion, Max Verstappen, suffered the technical problems and barely had any grip on his first run, only to lose power for his second run. Ferrari did not know how to rule it out for Charles Leclerc in the last stint and the Monegasque sank, from the lead to sixth place. “Were they going with the hard one?” Lewis Hamilton himself was surprised before the podium ceremony.
The feeling remains that Verstappen won the Hungarian GP in front of the Mercedes as much as Ferrari lost it. Carlos Sainz started second and finished fourth, without much more pace and with two pit-stops that exceeded four seconds and cost two positions. In fact, the only driver who overtook the Spanish man on the track was Hamilton.
Mattia Binotto, team boss, defended that there was no strategic error, but a lack of performance, attributable to an incorrect ‘set-up’: “The car did not work as we expected. The speed in general was not good, with no tires. You don’t have to look at the strategy, but why the car was not as good as we expected.” For the first time this season, the car was not as competitive as it normally has been. “Carlos had the same strategy as Lewis and finished behind”. Leclerc’s message, on the other hand, did not match: “We decided to stop and go hard, I still don’t understand the reasons, it was clearly not the right decision. I made it clear that I was comfortable with the medium so I don’t know what happened.”
The Ferrari strategy team was aware that the hard tire that Alpine fitted midway through the race did not heat up. “We see what is happening and we follow the rivals,” says Binotto. They kept the decision because, “based on the data”, “the hard one would behave the same as the medium (of Verstappen) after eleven laps”.
“It didn’t work as we expected, we don’t know why it was so bad this Sunday, but there is something wrong with the car that prevented the tires from working properly,” he continued. The heat on Friday suited the F1-75 well, but conditions changed completely on Sunday, with wind and tarmac up to 20 degrees cooler. Fearing graining, Maranello ruled out the starting soft (Russell and Red Bull did ride it).
“The first time in 13 grand prix that we are not competitive”
“It was not possible to win because we lacked speed, we still don’t know the reason, there is no clear explanation. It is the first time in thirteen grand prix that we are not competitive and we are not fighting for victory”, said Binotto, who also encouraged Leclerc after the umpteenth downturn when he was leading a race: “As the good leader he is, he will rest and come back more hungry, he will come back wanting to take advantage of every race to win.”
And while there was a lot of talk about tires, there wasn’t so much about the umpteenth bad change of wheels with Sainz. The last three races, in France and the two in Hungary, have been defective. Now, it’s time to analyze: they have had the best car in most circuits, they have only won four races and Verstappen is eighty points behind. Even Mercedes is already stalking second place in constructors.