Ferrari tyre strategy again questionable for Sainz – Ferrari have a reputation for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory never more exemplified than at this seasons Formula One race in Monaco. With Leclerc leading the team failed to react to changing track conditions quickly enough and their resulting pit stop strategy saw them hand Red Bull’s Sergio Perez the win. LeClerc ended up P4. Team mate Carlos Sainz Jr is not immune to Ferrari screwing over its drivers either when we look at Canada.
With another opportunity to take victory in Montreal questions are being asked again over Ferrari strategy. Carlos Sainz was leading the race when with 21 laps to go race control deployed a safety car. Verstappen had been chasing down Sainz on fresher rubber and initially thought the safety car would hand the Spaniard the race.
“The Safety Car came out and I was not very happy with that because then I knew, of course, that he would have fresh tyres behind me. And already with a little bit more pace compared to me, and it’s difficult to defend,” said the Red Bull driver.
Prior to the safety car, Sainz had a 7.7 second lead over Verstappen but the Dutch driver was catching Carlos on fresher tyres.
Sainz revealed he too thought the safety car would benefit his competitor.
“I felt like without the Safety Car he wouldn’t have caught me easily,” said Sainz. “I think it would have been a good battle at the end.
“With him catching up on me, I was ready to hang it out there until the chequered flag. I was in good pace, I was still doing 17.3s, and I think we could have made it to the flag.”
Both driver’s clearly thought the safety car would benefit the other.
Sainz did pit and the team chose to give him new hard tyres, but the safety car stayed out for 5 laps leaving just 16 to go at the restart.
“It was a tough, intense battle with Max,” he said. “I knew I had a bit of pace delta on him from the whole race and I think it was five, six laps fresher [on] tyres. But to overtake around here you need to be more than those two or three tenths,” Sainz revealed.
“I gave it all. I was risking everything over the kerbs, close to the wall and having a few moments out there in the dirty air. I got close a couple of times but not enough to really throw a move down the inside anywhere. But I can tell you I was pushing.”
Of course Carlos didn’t get to make the pass and now has 149 F1 race starts, 11 podiums but is yet to secure his first race victory.
Sainz is now third on the all time list of drivers with podiums but no wins. The record sits with Nick Heidfeld who in his career scored 13 podiums without winning a race.
However, did Ferrari and Sainz make the right decision when he pitted under the safety car? Should Ferrari have fitted him with soft tyres to challenge Verstappen with at the restart?
The Spaniard admitted after the race, “I was thinking about it . “The Safety Car stayed out for a bit longer than maybe what I thought or what the team thought.
“By time it was green flag, there was only 16 or something laps left, which was the right number of laps to maybe try and put on a soft and try to overtake Max on the warm-up phase of the hard.”
Despite the teams having plenty of new tyres across the soft, medium and hard range, not one driver chose to use the soft tyre during the Canadian GP.
So unfortunately we have no data to know whether the tyre would have been durable enough to make it to the end for Carlos.
One thing is certain, with Verstappen on older hard tyres at the restart Sainz would’ve passed him within a lap or two with the better traction the soft tyre would have provided off the final corner.
Yet again Ferrari appear to be playing their strategy too cautious and conservatively. Maybe the best option for Sainz was to fit the medium tyre compound given in stint one a number of drivers completed 19/20 laps using it.
Fernando completed 28 laps on the medium tyre, though towards the end his pace was falling away dramatically.