Although Charles Leclerc got the better of Max Verstappen off the line at the Emilia Romagna GP F1 Sprint Race, he believes his aggressive strategy ultimately cost him a chance at victory.
The Ferrari driver took the lead thanks to a lightening start, and held on to the position until the penultimate lap, when Verstappen used DRS on the main straight to take the lead.
It’s a position the Red Bull driver ultimately held onto, with Leclerc settling for second after admitting his tyre degradation prevented him from keeping his rival at bay.
“I pushed hard at the beginning to try and not be too vulnerable with Max having the DRS behind, and I feel like I paid the price for doing that at the end of the race,” said Leclerc to Sky Sports F1.
“It felt that they maybe had something more today, and he [Verstappen] kept it towards the end of the race and just overtook me when it mattered.
“It’s like this, we’ll work on ourselves for tomorrow and try to maximize our package. Hopefully we’ll have the same start as today without the degradation drop that we had at the end.”
Little difference between Ferrari and Red Bull
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies highlighted that the difference between the two teams is so small this weekend, that Sunday’s race will come down to the small details.
“I think the simple truth is that they are very strong,” Mekies told Sky Sports F1. “They are very fast, not only Max, but also Checo, you could see from his lap times.
“I don’t think there is much between our cars this weekend, so it’s going to be down to the small details. One car will be degrading a bit more, the other will use more of a compound, so we are prepared for this sort of scenario.
“Of course, we were hoping to stay in the lead until he end, but we picked up a bit more degradation than we hoped for.”
Mekies added that all strategy options are still on the table after Friday’s rain affected action, giving Ferrari much to think of ahead of Sunday.
“We will learn from what happened, we all had limited running on the dry tyre,” said Mekies. “Every team has pretty much all tyre options available because we ran so little on Friday, so it will be a good chess match.”