Formula One’s most historic team is in crisis. The Italian media are calling for the Ferrari boss Mattia Binottos’ head and persistent failed strategy calls have seen their drivers finish races consistently sub-par.In an extraordinary move, the Marenello team issued a statement following the British GP explaining their strategy calls during the race. The press release was in the form of a Q&A with Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto.
Binotto was attempting to defuse the brewing row over strategy at the British GP. Simply put with 13 laps to go, Ferrari left race leader Charles LerClerc out but pitted Carlos Sainz onto dress tyres behind the safety car.
At the restart Sainz blew past LeClerc, as did Sergio Perry and Lewis Hamilton. So LecLerc was facing a certain race win and finished P4.
But the Red Team’s boss was asked about LeClerc’s anger over how the race strategy was managed.
“For sure I can understand his frustration. When you’re comfortably leading a race with just a few laps to go and you don’t win, then it’s natural to feel disappointment. But Charles’ disappointment is also our disappointment – we win together and we lose together. We’re as frustrated as he is about his result, because the way he drove yesterday was amazing and showcased once again how strong a driver he is. Charles thoroughly deserved to win the race, if it wouldn’t have been for the safety car.”
However, the killer in Binotto’s statement should chill Charles Leclerc to the core. Ferrari’s team boss said that the decisions the team makes during the race is based on what is best for the team, not any particularly driver – regardless of their title hopes.
When asked why they hadn’t switched LeClerc and Sainz earlier at the British GP, Binotto replied; “The answer is quite simple: it was not necessary to do it at that point and there was still a lot of time to make that decision. Our priority is always to maximise the situation in order for the best team result. Only when this goal is under threat do we need to act. We did this during the second stint and swapped cars when Carlos was not fast enough and our opponents were catching us.”
Since then the Italian media have been incensed over the decisions to ‘disadvantage’ Charles Leclerc. There have been reports that Ferrari team members refused to attend the winning team photo and the pit wall was indeed sparse with team mechanics as Sainz crossed the line.
Charles Leclerc has fallen in line behind the Ferrari team; “It is definitely not what is happening inside the team. We are a very united team, we’ve always been and it’s not these difficult races that will make it change.
“Were we disappointed after last weekend? I think we were because speaking about last weekend, we were one-two and we finished one-four so part of the team were disappointed. But this was definitely not the reason whatsoever for not everybody being on the picture.”
LeClerc revealed the missing team members from Sainz winning picture was “a timing issue”.
“We wanted to do a first picture…but Carlos was not there,” said LeClerc. “So we had to delay everything. But there are no hard feelings whatsoever. … Everybody was very happy for Carlos, and this is the feeling that there is inside the team.”
When asked about the Ferrari strategy blunder in Monaco and again in Silverstone Charles Leclerc was coded in his repose.
“Well, obviously there’s been quite a lot of talks about the two events in the last few days,
He [Binotto] was first quite angry with me after Silverstone, because he saw me extremely down, which obviously he understood. But he just wanted to make sure that I was okay, and that I realised that I had done also an amazing job considering the situation I found myself in after the safety car.”
Social media was rife with pictures of Binotto wagging his finger in LeClerc’s face which led to speculation the Ferrari boss was seriously unhappy with LeClerc’s criticism of the team.
Ferrari are Ferrari and they are their greatest asset in terms of branding – but their greatest enemy in terms of being efficient.
At risk of being called racist, maybe it’s just an Italian thing. ‘It all comes good in the end’.
But seriously,. Ferrari’s most dominant period in their F1 history saw there team run by a Frenchman and a Brit.
Food for thought.