After a turbulent first stint that saw Ferrari see Sainz lose and reclaim the race lead, the team grew wary of the threat posed by Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes driver built up a tire delta.
Ferrari asked Sainz to cede his position to Leclerc after noting that it would have been marginal for both cars to get ahead of Hamilton once Mercedes got him into the pits. Hamilton emerged in third place after pitting but was slowly catching up to the Ferraris thanks to their tire advantage.
A safety car called with 14 laps to go caused 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 tires .
Leclerc noted on the radio that it would be “difficult” to keep the soft tire chase cars behind him, and it turned out to be the case. After losing the lead to Sainz on the Wellington straight after the race resumed, he was then overtaken by Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages.
Leclerc admitted after the race he was “disappointing” to miss out on victory, after seeing his main rival for the F1 title, Max Verstappen, finish only seventh due to bodywork damage.
Asked by Motorsport.com why Ferrari pitted Sainz instead of Leclerc, team principal Mattia Binotto said he was “too close to stop them both”, which prompted him to rule out Leclerc due to his cooler tires and track position.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, battle with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
“There wasn’t enough of a gap to stop them both, as the second would have lost time in the pit stop and dropped back onto the track,” Binotto said.
“Why then in deciding to arrest just one, why did we decide to arrest Carlos? Because Charles got the track position. He was leading, so he would have remained the race leader.
“His tires were cooler than Carlos’s. He had I think six or seven laps less than the fitter Carlos.
“And Carlos, stopping and being second, he would have protected at least in the first two corners where we knew going hard, it would have been a bit more difficult. That’s the reason why we decided .
“Then we were hoping for more tire degradation on the softs, to give Charles, yeah, maybe three or four hard laps at the start, but then recover later, but the soft didn’t degrade like we did. we hoped.”
Binotto thought Ferrari’s decisions on race strategy were “the right ones and the right ones every time”, with the only potential mistake in the call to stop Leclerc from entering instead.
“If we had stopped, maybe the others would have stayed out, and they might have been fourth on the soft tires with other cars ahead of him,” Binotto said.
“Would he have recovered the positions? I am not sure. I think in hindsight it’s always easy to say that we could have done it differently.
“We once again had a safety car at the wrong time when we were comfortably leading the race at that time.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, at Parc Fermé
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Binotto and Leclerc were seen chatting immediately after the race at Silverstone, but the Ferrari team boss said it was just him trying to console his driver after he was “unlucky again”.
“First I knew he was disappointed and frustrated, which is understandable because he was clearly leading the race and he was comfortable going really fast by the time the safety car came out.
“And for him today was a great opportunity in terms of the championship because he was leading while Max was in trouble.
“So the safety car came out, he had a tough end to the race and no doubt he was disappointed.
“So when I met him I knew he was disappointed. But what I told him was that you once again had a fantastic race, because you had a fantastic first lap in beating you.
“And after the restart behind the safety car, the way he was driving and protecting his position is incredible and outstanding.
“So I just told him to stay calm, because his driving was fantastic.
“He was unlucky again today because a safety car when you lead a few laps at the end is kind of unlucky. And I think overall that’s why the which is why I think we just tried not to be too disappointed.”