Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Ferrari‘s decision to pit Carlos Sainz late in Sunday’s 2022 French Grand Prix was the right call given the risk involved.
The Spaniard finished fifth after starting down in 19th due to a raft of power unit changes. However, the decision to pit him for new tyres during a late battle with Sergio Perez has once again raised questions regarding Ferrari and their strategy calls.
Nico Rosberg has called for Binotto to make personnel changes given the decision ended Sainz‘s hopes of finishing on the podium, but the Ferrari boss believes the move was the right one given the state of the Spaniard’s tyres.
“We don’t feel it was the right choice, we’re pretty sure it was the right choice because at the time he was short on life with wear and tyres,” Binotto told Sky Sports F1.
“So it would have been really risky to go to the end.
“We don’t think he would have still had the pace to open the gap to five seconds because he had a five second penalty at the time.
“By stopping he did the fastest lap as well. I think that was the safest and the right decision to take.”
When pressed on whether the call cost Sainz at least one position, Binotto refuted that claim.
“We don’t think so,” said Binotto. “We think that if we would have stayed out, he would not have somehow opened the gap to five seconds to the guys behind.
“They were still lapping at 1:37.900, which was a pretty fast pace, so we don’t think he would have had sufficient time to open the gap.”
Binotto still upbeat despite Ferrari’s bad day
Although Sainz‘s great recovery drive was enough to secure a fifth-place finish, Ferrari leave Le Castellet with little to show for despite looking like the fastest car once again.
Pole sitter Charles Leclerc crashed out while leading, the third time he’s retired while in front this season. It means the Monegasque now sits 63 points back from Max Verstappen in the Driver Standings, while Ferrari now trail Red Bull by 82 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Nevertheless, Binotto believes there are positives to take from the weekend.
“I think we had a good performance,” said Binotto. “Tyre management, tyre degradation…
“I think we had a bit of an edge on the Red Bull because after 15 laps, Charles was going well and was gaining three tenths per lap on Max.
“He had to stop very early and we would have certainly extended the stint. A little mistake, it happens, just as we may have reliability issues. What I said to Charles is we make our life a bit more difficult, but I think we will enjoy things in the future.
“There is always something to improve and to learn. I think that’s our approach, step by step. I think we are progressing and becoming better.
“But more than that, once again today we have proved to the two drivers that we have a fast car, a very competitive one and we are simply looking now to Hungary.
“I think we need to turn the page and look to Hungary. We can do a one-two there, why not?”