Charles Leclerc blamed his “shit” sixth-placed finish at the United States Grand Prix on his one-stop strategy that had the driver fuming at Ferrari.
Starting from pole position at the Circuit of The Americas, Leclerc could only watch as he was overtaken by one rival after another to fall to sixth.
Repeatedly told by his engineer Xavier Marcos Padros to manage his tyres with messages such as “increase tyre saving” or “look after these tyres”, Leclerc had the last word about tyres as he came into the closing laps down in sixth place.
Charles Leclerc rues being ‘far off the ideal race strategy’
“Tyres are completely f**ked,” said the disappointed Monégasque driver.
His post-race radio message to Ferrari made his thoughts on the one-stopper very clear.
“Couldn‘t do any better with that strategy. I think I maximised everything with that strategy,” he said.
Xavi told him he’d “managed the tyres well” only for Leclerc to reply: “Doesn’t matter when we have such a shit result.”
Leclerc was left to rue being “far off the ideal race strategy” with his team-mate Carlos Sainz beating him to the chequered flag.
“I went for the one-stop and unfortunately this was definitely the wrong thing to do,” he said.
“And for some reason, there was something wrong in our numbers today, because we were far off the ideal race strategy.”
But given that Ferrari’s data pre-race told them the “one-stop and the two-stops were extremely close together”, Leclerc was left baffled as to what went wrong.
“To be honest, I don’t have the answer yet because it was quite far off the two-stops,” he said.
“We finished behind Carlos by 10 seconds, which is a good comparison, because we’ve got both the same car. There was something off.”
Ferrari defend one-stop call
Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur was surprised to hear Leclerc’s complaints about his strategy given he was aware that it was his minimal tyre degradation that had Ferrari deciding on a one-stopper.
But with Leclerc’s degradation increasing in the second stint, he concedes in hindsight it was a mistake.
“I’m not sure why he complained about why, because he knows that,” he told Sky Deutschland.
“The situation is that the strategy at the end of the race was not good. We don’t have one Good choice made. But that’s life. ”
As for why Ferrari went with the one-stopper, the Frenchman explained: “Because the [tyre] wear on Charles’ car was very good at the beginning. We expected that he could drive longer.
“Then we understood that the plan was not good. We made a mistake.”
90 minutes after the race Leclerc lost his sixth-placed finish with his Ferrari have fallen foul of the technical regulations in a post-race check.
The plank of his SF-23 was found to be thinner than the mandated 9mm and while Ferrari argued that was because of the Austin bumps, the stewards said the “onus” was on the teams to comply with the regulations.
Lewis Hamilton was also disqualified for the same reason, elevating Sainz onto the podium.