Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has explained why the Scuderia did not make Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz swap positions towards the end of the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Sainz had been running in a comfortable third when Leclerc closed in the remaining few laps but, despite calls to the pit wall to let him through in order to help close the gap between himself and Sergio Perez in the battle for second in the 2022 Drivers’ Championship the team stood their ground with Sainz finishing third and Leclerc fourth.
Later in a media session in which Total Motorsport was in attendance, Binotto explained that they didn’t tell Sainz to move over for Leclerc because of the fact that their was a danger that Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso could overtake.
“Swapping the two cars on the back straight was tricky because Charles got Fernando and Max behind,” Binotto told the media after the race, including Total-Motorsport.com.
“It certainly would have been tricky and somehow dangerous, but more than that, we know that we were under investigation for what happened behind the Safety Car with Tsunoda.”
“We were cleared by race control at the time, but without a conclusion on that matter, it would have been risky because a five-second penalty would have meant that Carlos would have been losing more than one position, so for the Constructors’ Championship, it was certainly better to stick with the positions, and the gaps on track.”
Mercedes too strong for Sainz
Following a late Safety Car, brought out by Lando Norris’ McLaren being stuck by the side of the track, Ferrari pitted Sainz for a fresh set of rubber, giving him a chance of having a chance of attacking the Mercedes at the restart.
But his hopes of a shock race win were scuppered after being held up by Sergio Perez for some laps before the Mexican eventually had to concede the position.
However, despite the new tyres, Binotto believed that Sainz wouldn’t have won due to Mercedes’s race pace being too strong at Interlagos.
“The Mercedes was very fast,” Binotto said, he [Sainz] could have been in the fight, but it was difficult to overtake Perez
“It would have been even more difficult to overtake the Mercedes, so yeah, by not having Perez, he would have been closer, but I don’t think he would have won.”
Ferrari Qualifying blunder
Ferrari’s weekend had got off to an awful start when mixed conditions caught the team during Qualifying, with Leclerc sent out on intermediates when the track was still dry, costing him a chance of pole position, much to his disgust.
Later Binotto admitted that the team had got it wrong but explained that the decision to go to inters was due to the constantly evolving conditions.
“Obviously, when you’ve got such weather conditions,” Binotto said. “It’s always a lottery, and I think Kevin [Magnussen] was on pole Hamilton eighth Perez ninth.
“It probably means that it’s a lottery, but we made it wrong because we were the only ones on inters at the time and not on slicks.
“Now those types of mistakes in such lottery style (weather conditions) may always happen, and it can turn out in the right decision as well as a weather change in a minute.”