F1 2022: Ferrari explains 'nonsensical' Carlos Sainz strategy at disastrous French Grand Prix, can still win championship

F1 2022: Ferrari explains ‘nonsensical’ Carlos Sainz strategy at disastrous French Grand Prix, can still win championship

Ferrari insists it is still in the F1 world championship race as it defended its botched strategy for Carlos Sainz at the French Grand Prix.

The race at Circuit Paul Ricard was a disaster for Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc all but throwing away his world title hopes by spinning and crashing out while leading a race for the third time this season.

Realizing just how damaging his crash was, Leclerc was heard breathing heavily over team radio, before he let out an almighty scream of frustration.

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But Ferrari’s shocker didn’t end there. After starting at the back of the grid with a penalty for taking a new engine, Carlos Sainz flew through the field and looked on track for a sensational podium finish.

The Spaniard had the best pace of the field and was on track for third place after passing Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

But concerned about whether he would make it to the end of the race on his medium tyres, Ferrari made the very conservative call to bring him in for a second pit stop.

Sainz ended up finishing fifth but viewers said the decision to pit him was baffling when he appeared to be managing his tires well.

Sky Sports commentator Paul di Resta said: “Have they not just thrown away to third place? I am sure he was going to finish five seconds further up the road than (George) Russell and Perez.”

Ted Kravitz added: “That inertia from Ferrari in making a decision has definitely cost a position.”

Ferrari had the fastest car out of any team all weekend but missed out on vital points in France with their mistakes.

Leclerc is now 63 points behind Verstappen in the drivers’ championship, while Ferrari is 82 points adrift of Red Bull in the constructors’ standings, but Mercedes is nipping at their heels in third place.

Ferrari also came under fire for appearing to tell Sainz over team radio to pit at the same time he was in a wheel-to-wheel with Perez.

But the team said they weren’t trying to talk to Sainz then and it only seemed that way because of a quirk in the TV coverage where a radio message is shown shortly after it is actually said.

“The way that television production feeds the data to the viewers, it has a delay in it,” Ferrari Strategy Director Inaki Rueda said in his race debrief.

“In this case, you saw Perez and Carlos were fighting on lap 41. We were talking to Carlos, and we saw that Carlos could not overtake Perez on the back straight, and in turn 10 we actually called Carlos in.

“Of course he was fighting with Perez. He thought he would have him the lap after, and that’s why he decided to say: ‘Please don’t come in. Not this lap’.

“Now, you are watching the television live. That call came on the television feed at Turn 15, right after the pit entry: which is nonsensical, because do we call the driver so late he cannot actually react to our call?”

Rueda said the team decided it was better for Sainz to serve his five-second penalty for an unsafe pit release in the pits to get fresh tyres.

“This (penalty) actually changed our whole approach to that last stint, because even though Carlos had managed to overtake Russell and Perez, he was never going to be able to open a five second gap on them having to nurse those medium tires to the end,” he said.

“With this in mind, we decided to pit Carlos and make sure that he came back and got an extra point for the fastest lap.”

Despite missing out on bulk points in France and losing further ground to Red Bull, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto isn’t conceding defeat in the championship and said there’s no reason why his team can’t win the last 10 races of the season.

“What we are focused on is trying to go to each race and get the maximum results from it… I think what’s more important to see is the good package,” he said, per Motorsport.com.

“There is no reason why not to win ten races from now to the end. I think that the way to look at it is positively, and I like to be positive – staying optimistic.

“Could something happen to Max and Red Bull? It already happened to them as it happened to us.

“Maybe it happens as well. But I’m not counting on it. I think we need to be focused on ourselves and do the best (we can).”

Ferrari will get their chance at redemption at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

“We need to turn the page and look to Hungary and do a one-two there,” Binotto told Formula1.com.

“Our objective going in Hungary should be not for a (win), but a one-two.”


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