Ferrari tactics: ‘The pit stop wasn’t a mistake’

GP Imola 2022

Red Bull dominated Imola like Ferrari in Melbourne. Ironically, a lot went wrong with Ferrari at home. After the race, the strategists had to put up with the question of whether the second leg was the right decision.

Ferrari couldn’t win. Red Bull was a force in Imola. Charles Leclerc managed to write off his winning chances after only the first 575 metres. The guy from second on the grid was fourth, not first. Max Verstappen managed to escape while his opponent in the World Championships had to pass first on Lando Norris and then Sergio Perez ahead of him for 44 laps.


Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto attributes his drivers’ poor start to the track. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were in the right line. The track there was wetter than the left. “Charles and Carlos did everything right from the start, but they were less tight-lipped.”


It cost Sainz dearly. In the turmoil of the first lap, Daniel Ricciardo maneuvered his maneuvers into the gravel bed. “I don’t blame Daniel. He’s not an unfair driver. When he lost his car for a while, he hit me. It could happen. Then he came to our pits to apologize to a mechanic. That was a great gesture. I couldn’t be mad at him.”

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For Carlos Sainz, the race ended after a few metres.

Perez only passed with DRS

For Leclerc, Perez’s second Red Bull has become an insurmountable hurdle. As always, the Red Bulls were at top speed. Binotto admitted: “We would only have bypassed with the help of the DRS.”


But FIA Racing Director Nils Wittich only agreed to flatten the rear wing on lap 34. The danger with only one dry track but all the cars on the spots seemed too big for him. Apparently the serious crash of Valtteri Bottas and George Russell the previous year was still haunting the race control chiefs.


Halfway through the race, Perez and Leclerc are about two seconds apart. With the medium tires not appearing to be significantly down at the end of the race, Ferrari had to devise something that would put Leclerc in second.


“We didn’t see a chance to attack Perez, so we brought Charles into the pits hoping Red Bull would follow us on a lap later,” Binotto explained. Leclerc must then shoot the castle ready to attack with the already warm soft tires.

Max Verstappen - Emilia-Romagna - Imola - 2022

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Ferrari tried to prevent Red Bull’s double win with a risky strategy.

The distance to Norris is very close

In fact, Red Bull responded to the lock-in attempt, but the move was unsuccessful. Ferrari had pulled the rip rope too early. On lap 48 he was 2.7 seconds behind Perez and 27.4 seconds ahead of Lando Norris. This was in the delta boundary to stay in front of the McLaren driver with a quick stop. The tire change was good, but it wasn’t good enough. When Leclerc got out on the track, the McLaren suddenly put in front of his nose. Perez stayed ahead with the best stop of the day.


By the time the World Championship leader left Norris behind, the best chance to attack Perez was already gone. If Ferrari had only waited two laps, the lead over Norris would have been big enough for him to finish third for sure.


By the way, the maneuver was not about the fastest lap, as many assumed. The stop was supposed to be timed later for that. “We didn’t aim for the extra point on the fastest lap, but for second place,” said the team boss.

Charles Leclerc - Emilia Romagna GP - Imola - 2022

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The pit stop cost Charles Leclerc seven points.

No error under pressure

After four laps to stop, the dream of second place finally came to an end and third place was given up. Leclerc spun into the Alta variant as he attacked hard. Ferrari briefly touched the wall in reverse gear. This resulted in another tire change and a nose change. Tifosi’s favorite is back to rejoin the field in ninth place. The race ended to catch up with sixth place.


Instead of winning by three points, Leclerc lost seven points. “It was a mistake for me to take so much risk. It would have been better to secure third place. But in this world championship, every point can be at stake. Alternative Alta was one of the corners where we were faster than Red Bull. I exaggerated it a little bit. “. Leclerc really wanted to reduce the gap in front of the DRS meter point to less than a second in a row, so that he could then attack with the DRS on the long house straight.


Binotto countered the accusation that Ferrari put too much pressure on its driver with its precarious stopping timing: “The fault has nothing to do with pressure. Racing drivers are used to driving at full speed. Cars have harder suspension this year. If that’s the case. You get too high on the pavement, you can To lose the car.”

Charles Leclerc - Emilia Romagna GP - Imola - 2022

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Leclerc lost much of his lead in the championship standings.

Not a big upgrade for Ferrari in Miami

Ferrari also lost the match at home because Red Bull was faster by a touch. And so there was the certainty of being able to perfectly balance the cars despite the tough conditions with just one hour of training in the rain. “We didn’t do it well,” Ferrari admitted. In the sprint, Red Bull defeated its rival because the car and driver were kinder to the tyres. Ferrari corrected that for racing features. “The tire problems from Saturday no longer exist.”


Red Bull lowered the weight on Ferrari’s handicap and also found a bit more downforce with aerodynamic upgrades. However, Ferrari does not want to face a major expansion phase in Miami. “We will be working to prevent recoil and adapt our aerodynamics package for this track, which requires less downforce. A bigger upgrade will follow shortly,” Binotto says, to limit expectations.


For Leclerc and Sainz, it’s all about getting Imola out of their minds. Leclerc hasn’t dealt with bugs for long. Monegasque is always good at something like this after a short analysis. On the other hand, Carlos Sainz finally needs a race that lasts more than two laps. “Mistakes happen. Bad luck happens,” the Spaniard said. “I prefer to check that at the beginning of the year and not later in the season.”


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