The 7th round of the 2022 Formula One championship saw a surprise winner in Sergio Perez and a Ferrari disaster that cost both of their drivers the opportunity to win the race. The Scuderia tend to be conservative in their race strategy while Red Bull as they demonstrated at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP are more adept at rolling the dice to ‘mix things up.’
Charles LeClerc starting from pole was nailed on to win the race, until strategy came into play. The downpour just before the start of the race saw all the drivers start on full wet tyres
Pierre Gasly had switched on lap 2 to the intermediate wet tyres and after a couple of laps to get the tyres warmed up was several seconds a lap quicker than the leaders.
Yet it was Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who was the first of the from runners to pit and to Ferrari’s surprise he was several seconds a lap quicker immediately.
Sporting director for the Scuderia Inaki Rueda explained how they reacted to the Perez switch but were shocked that the Mexican driver had gained 9 seconds on 1 lap. The Red Bull driver was now just 1 second adrift from the lead.
Then Ferrari made their second mistake as Rueda explained in a video released by the Italian team.“We wanted to pit both cars onto dry tyres. On lap 21, we thought the track was good for dry tyres. At the same time we were bringing Carlos in to try and keep the lead of the race, we thought, ‘let’s bring Charles to try and undercut Perez so we can finish P1 and P2’.
“As we were coming in, we were looking at our tools and our gaps. The gap in between our cars was five seconds. It was tight for a stop here. A comfortable stop here is done with six seconds in between the cars, but we thought five-and-a-half seconds might be enough.
“As the cars got closer and closer to pit entry, the gap was narrowed and at pit entry, the gap was only three-and-a-half seconds. We made a last second attempt to try and tell Charles to stay out, but it was too late – he had already veered into the pit lane and in this stop, Charles lost two seconds. This was crucial. This is what allowed Verstappen to come out ahead of Charles a lap later.”
Ferrari appear to have some issue in their decision making processes which Matter Binotto said would be investigated after the race in the Principality.
If the Red Team are to bag their first F1 world title in more than a decade, they’ll need to sharpen up their race strategy and evaluate their options more quickly.
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