Acknowledging that Carlos Sainz was a “little frustrated” during the Monaco Grand Prix, Fred Vasseur stands by Ferrari’s decision to pit him on lap 34 to cover Lewis Hamilton.
Running fourth behind Esteban Ocon around the streets of Monte Carlo, Sainz’s frustrations at not being able to find a way past boiled over, initially with a badly-timed attack on the Alpine driver that left Sainz with a broken front wing and then in his rants over the radio to Ferrari.
Called into the pits on lap 34, finally doing so after ignoring Ferrari’s calls earlier in the race to pit for fresh tyres, Sainz found himself once again staring at Ocon’s rear wing.
He let rip: “What the f***! This is exactly what I talked about!” Told it was done to cover Hamilton, he shouted: “I don’t care about Hamilton!”
Sainz feels Ferrari should’ve been a “bit more patient” and labelled that first pit stop “debatable”.
Vasseur is adamant it was the right call at the right time.
“I think it was a good strategy because when we asked him to pit it was to avoid losing a position against Hamilton,” said Vasseur.
“Positions are key on this track. It would have been better to extend if we were not at risk from Hamilton, but in this situation I think it was the good call.
“At one stage we had to cover the other ones on track to avoid losing position and it’s always easy to redo the race after 5:30 and say ‘okay, if you extend the stint then you can change the tyres when it’s raining’.
“But we didn’t know at this stage, and we were in the situation to lose positions compared to our competitors.”
‘Carlos Sainz was a little frustrated’
The team boss, though, says he understands his driver’s frustration.
“He was a little frustrated,” he told Sky Deutschland. “He was behind Ocon and saw Alonso and Verstappen driving away. He probably had better pace and was frustrated.”
Sainz, although he feels he lost out on a possible podium given that Ocon finished the race in third place, admits he was out of line with the way he carried on over the radio.
“I was frustrated but I shouldn’t have showed it on the radio,” he said, “first of all, always due to frustration and then the second pit stop, it’s a lottery.”
Sainz would eventually finished in eighth place with the Spaniard having tagged the barrier as the rain came down, that dropping him behind Charles Leclerc meaning he was second in line for a double-stack pit stop.
Vasseur has no ‘regrets as far as the race is concerned’
As for Leclerc, the Monégasque driver was unable to reach the podium at his home race and had to settle for sixth place.
“You always learn on a tough weekend,” Vasseur said. “You learn more from a tough weekend than from a good weekend.
“If we look at the first part of the weekend, you can say that the pace was good. But we missed the pace in Q3 and when you start fourth and sixth you have to take a risk at some point so I don’t have any regrets as far as the race is concerned.”
Looking ahead to the next race in Spain, part two of the double-header, Vasseur said: “Now we have to turn this page before we think about Barcelona.
“What’s good is that it’s very close this year. There’s a group of a few cars that are very close together. Of course we have to pay attention to every little detail again in Barcelona in order to be up there at the front.”