RACING

Why Binotto retains faith in his strategic F1 team at Ferrari

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In fact, he is solid in defending his strategy department and, while accepting that there is always room for improvement, it is abundantly clear that he has the right people in place in the right roles.

It’s a stance that may come as a surprise to some F1 fans, who have heavily criticized the team for what has appeared to be a series of critical errors this season that have cost championship hopeful Charles Leclerc dearly.

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In Monaco, with Leclerc in the lead, he did not respond in time as the track was drying out after Sergio Perez switched to slicks.

This then escalated the situation with a poorly timed second stop which also allowed Leclerc to be passed by Max Verstappen.

At the British Grand Prix, Ferrari’s failure to pit Leclerc on the final safety car restart saw him drop from the lead to fourth at the end.

Then in Hungary, a choice of hard tires left the Monegasque helpless to defend against title rival Verstappen on a day when the team’s real problem was actually the lack of performance from the F1-75.

Added to this is how strategy unfolded for Carlos Sainz in France, when TV showed Ferrari’s strategists confused and indecisive.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Ferrari

Binotto is confident Ferrari can do better and lessons have been taken on board, particularly from Monaco, on the systems the team needs to make more informed pit wall calls.

However, he says doing things better is a world away from believing Ferrari has a fundamental problem with its strategy – because he says there are times when it has beaten rivals Red Bull by doing a better job. with its tire calls in the race.

“I think there’s always room for improvement,” he said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com. “You can’t be perfect, and you will never be perfect. So without a doubt, we need to improve on aero, chassis, power unit, strategy or whatever we can.

“But having said that, I think I have a great team on strategy, and I don’t think that’s a weakness.”

Comparisons Hamilton Abu Dhabi

Binotto says it’s important when properly evaluating strategy calls that they aren’t judged solely on how things went in hindsight.

Instead, what needs to be looked at is whether or not the right decision was made with the information the team had on the pit wall at the time.

Because in F1 there are often times when a decision looks wrong in hindsight but was completely correct at the time, especially because teams can’t judge how others react to the decision. ‘they take.

Ferrari’s call to keep Leclerc out during the British GP safety car is an example of this, as it mirrors the scenario Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton faced during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix l last year.

Race leaders with the peloton right behind often find themselves trapped in a Catch-22 scenario. If they object, those behind can stay away. That means they lose track position and then, if they don’t recover, it looks like they sacrificed the lead for nothing. If they stay outside, those behind the pit for fresh rubber. Then, if they then lose in the flag race, it looks like they made a mistake by not changing tires.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, takes on Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75 and Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, takes on Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75 and Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The script for Hamilton at Abu Dhabi and Leclerc at Silverstone, and the choices made by both teams to keep their drivers out, were identical.

And for Binotto, in the end, they were right – even if in both cases it cost the pilots the victory.

Reflecting on similar circumstances, Binotto explained: “I think what was the right decision for Lewis, I think maybe it was still the right one.

“From the outside, yes, Max won the championship. But Max would always have done the opposite. If he had been in front [had Hamilton stopped] so how would he have finished the race? We do not know.

“So if at Silverstone Charles had come in and Lewis had stayed on fresh tyres. How would the race have ended? I don’t know.

“So even in hindsight, I don’t know what the answer is. But, by the way, no one is arguing and arguing about their [Mercedes] decision at the time.

“Everyone believes they can somehow challenge what we decided at Silverstone.”

No weakness

Reflecting on the races at the start of the season, as he spoke ahead of the Hungarian GP, ​​Binotto said even analysis of the decisions made after the race failed to highlight the mistakes.

“While you might see Monaco, Silverstone and Paul Ricard as problems, I don’t see them as problems because I think sometimes we made the right decisions,” he explained.

“I’m not convinced at the moment that what we did was wrong. I’m still convinced that we made the right decision at the time. Unlucky at times, but not bad.

Ferrari mechanics cheer as Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, crosses the line

Ferrari mechanics cheer as Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, crosses the line

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“And I think if you look at our strategy team, sometimes they even do great things, even greater than others.

“We had the right strategy in Austria and the others didn’t. We probably had the best strategy in France before Charles’ mistake.

“And I think it shows: we were brave enough in France to bring two mediums into the race when the others were struggling. To do that, you have to be not only strong, but brave.

“So overall we have a good team and I don’t think that’s a weakness for us.”

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