LeClerc contradicts Binotto over Monza strategy

The 2022 Italian GP in Monza was far from a disaster for Ferrari who claimed pole position from Max Verstappen. Yet there were again suggestions the race team operations are below par. There were again discussions with the drivers over tyre strategy which has previously brought the criticism that Ferrari’s strategists are not good enough to make decisive calls.

Following the race a dejected Charles LeClerc was interview before the podium.

The Monegasque rued the lack of opportunity to restart the race from behind the Safety Car, “I wish we could have ended up racing. Unfortunately we were in second place at that time – because of what happened before – so it’s a shame. Overall I gave it all. I wish I could have won in front of the amazing Tifosi.” 

 

 

When asked about whether pitting early under the VSC was the right thing to do, LeClerc became more clipped in his response.

“To be honest we didn’t know what they [Red Bull] were going to do, so we took that choice.”

Brundle pressed Charles asking him if he was happy with the choice of an early pit stop but he refused to answer.

“Obviously we finished P2 so I’m not extremely happy with the race, but we’ll work on that.”

Brundle suggested Ferrari needed to find extra pace going forward but LeClerc did not agree.

“No, I think the pace was quite strong today – we’ll have to look into it but I think we were quite strong, but I’ll see.”

LeClerc launched into Italian and thanked the Tifosi which concluded the interview.

 

 

The lap times were interesting at the time Ferrari took the decision to pit Charles LeClerc. Max had roared through the field from P7 and arrived in P2 by lap 5. However having used up a fair amount of his tyres to make the overtakes it appeared as though the Red bull driver was a mere 1-2 10ths a lap quicker than LeClerc.

Over the remaining laps before the virtual safety car Verstappen failed to find DRS once and was always over a second behind the Ferrari leading the race.

Clearly Ferrari decided to go off strategy and pit Charles on lap 9 because the VSC was declared but Red Bull backed their belief it was too early to stop.

Verstappen managed 26 laps on his starting tyres before pitting for new rubber.

 

 

Had Ferrari left LeClerc out, there was no evidence Max would have been able to pass him before the first round of pit stops.

However, post race Mattia Binotto refused to countenance their early pit stop for LeClerc would have changed anything.

“We tried everything that we could. Max has had a fantastic race he has been very fast today one again – less tyre degradation to us and I think somehow he deserved the win at the end,” Binotto sighed.

“At the time we were leading the race [in stint one] we saw that we had a bit ore tyre degradation to Max, our strategy at the time was a one stop, so without any VSC or safety car we would have stayed out.”

“But when the VSC came we believed it was the right choice to to simply go on a different strategy of two stops. Not being on the same strategy as Max because we believed he would have been faster.”

“We came in, they stayed out. We are on a two stop, they were on one and then Max was simply faster.” 

“If we look at the last 3 races we have not been great in race pace or in degradation, but here in Monza I think we made a step ahead. Yesterday in the quail we had a great day with our two drivers and today in the race a bit more degradation to Max.”

 

 

Of course we’ll never know what was said in the Ferrari debrief, but it is clear from the post race interviews Ferrari’s lead driver and the team boss disagree over the fundamental race pace of their car. 

This disagreement is clearly driving Ferrari strategy which at times has been woeful. If the team believe the race pace isn’t good enough, running 3 stints at full tilt instead of 2 whilst saving tyres has been proven by Red Bull to work on numerous occasions this season.

The reason one stops are less frequent this season is because cars can overtake more easily so track position is not as crucial.

Ferrari switching to a two stop strategy, which historically been a non-starter in Monza, does suggest they have a difference of opinion to their driver over how quick their car would have been in a straight fight with Max Verstappen.

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