Formula 1

Ferrari explains why it didn't pit Leclerc under British GP F1 safety car

Ferrari has explained its decision to pit Carlos Sainz instead of race leader Charles Leclerc under the late safety car in the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.

After a hectic opening stint that saw Ferrari see Sainz lose and regain the lead of the race, the team found itself wary of the threat posed by Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes driver built up a tyre delta.

Ferrari asked Sainz to give up position to Leclerc after noting it would have been marginal for both cars to get ahead of Hamilton once Mercedes brought him into the pits. Hamilton emerged in third place after stopping, but was slowly catching the Ferraris thanks to his tyre advantage.

A safety car called with 14 laps remaining prompted a flurry of late pit stops, but Ferrari opted to keep race leader Leclerc out and only bring in Sainz for a set of soft tyres.

Leclerc noted over the radio that it would be “hard” to keep the chasing cars on soft tyres behind him, and it proved to be the case. After losing the lead to Sainz heading onto the Wellington Straight after the race resumed, he then got overtaken by Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages.

Leclerc admitted after the race that it was “disappointing” to have missed out on victory, having seen chief F1 title rival Max Verstappen only finish seventh due to bodywork damage.

Asked by why Ferrari pitted Sainz instead of Leclerc, team principal Mattia Binotto said it was “too close to stop both of them”, prompting it to keep Leclerc out due to his fresher tyres and track position.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, battles with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

“There was not a sufficient gap to stop both of them, because the second would have lost time at the pit stop and would have fallen back on-track,” Binotto said.

“Why then by deciding to stop only one, why we decided to stop Carlos? Because Charles got the track position. He was leading, so he would have remained the leader of the race.

“His tyres were fresher compared to the ones of Carlos. He had I think six or seven laps less laps to the one of Carlos in a better shape.

“And Carlos, by stopping and being second, he would have protected at least in the first couple of corners where we knew that starting on the hard, it would have been a bit more difficult. That was the reason why we decided.

“Then we were hoping for more tyre degradation on the softs, to give Charles, yeah, maybe a difficult three or four laps initially but then recovering later on, but the soft didn’t degrade as we were hoping.”

Binotto thought Ferrari’s decisions on race strategy were “the right and proper ones at each single time”, with the only potential miscue coming in the call to keep Leclerc out instead of coming in.

“If we would have stopped, maybe the other ones may have stayed out, and they would have maybe been fourth on soft tyres with other cars ahead of him,” Binotto said.

“Would he have recovered the positions? I’m not sure. I think with the hindsight, it’s always easy to say we could have done differently.

“We had once again a safety car at the wrong moment where we were comfortably leading the race at that point.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Binotto and Leclerc were seen chatting immediately after the race at Silverstone, but the Ferrari team boss says this was just him trying to console his driver after he was "once again unlucky".

"First, I knew that he was disappointed and frustrated, which is understandable because he was leading clearly the race and he was comfortable going very fast at the time when the safety car came out.

"And for him today was a great opportunity in terms of championship because he was leading while Max had some problems.

"So then the safety car came out, he had a difficult let me say end of the of the race and no doubt that he was disappointed.

"So when I met him, I knew he was disappointed. But what I told him is you did a fantastic race once again, because you did a fantastic first lap of the race battling.

"And then after the restart behind the safety car again, the way he was driving and protecting position is amazing and outstanding.

"So I told him simply to stay calm, because the way he drove was fantastic.

"He has been once again unlucky today, because a safety car when you are leading a few laps to the end, is somehow bad luck. And I think that overall that's why the reason I think we simply tried not to be too disappointed."

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