Leclerc baffled by Ferrari strategy ‘disaster’

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc and George Russell. Hungary July 2022.

George Russell defends from Charles Leclerc heading into Turn 2. Hungary July 2022.

Charles Leclerc was left confused as to why his Hungarian Grand Prix strategy had ended up as a “disaster” after a lowly P6 finish.

The Ferrari driver had taken the lead of the race from George Russell midway through the race, but with the team having put on a second set of medium tyres at the first pit-stop Leclerc was obliged to make a second stop for a different compound.

Leclerc himself wanted to extend his stint on the mediums to open up the possibility for a switch to softs towards the end, but was instead instructed to stop early and the team put a set of hards on his F1-75.

But with the Alpine pair of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon struggling on the same compound, as well as poor grip during practice, that left Leclerc vulnerable to attack from behind and Max Verstappen duly took charge of the race from then on.

Leclerc eventually swapped to softs, but the extra stop dropped him out of the podium places – which left him perplexed as to what had happened to him.

“I don’t know yet,” Leclerc told Sky Sports when asked if he could explain his strategy.

“We need to speak with the team and understand the thought behind putting [on] the hards because I felt very strong on the mediums.

“Everything was under control and for some reason, I don’t know why we need to go onto [the] hards, so I don’t know.

“I said on the radio I was very comfortable with the mediums and that I wanted to go as long as possible with those tyres because the feeling was good.

“But I don’t know why we took a different decision.”

Leclerc had worked his way into the lead after leapfrogging his team-mate Carlos Sainz after his stop before taking charge after a bold overtake around the outside of Russell at Turn 1.

So when he was asked how the car had felt and if raw speed had anything to do with his deficit, he was quick to dismiss it.

“Honestly, the pace on my side? I was pretty happy,” Leclerc said. “The only thing is obviously everybody will remember the last part of the race was a disaster for me, especially the hards.

“That’s where I lost the race, basically. I lost 20 seconds with a pit-stop, another maybe six seconds on five laps on the hards because I was just all over the place with this tyre. And that’s where we lost our race.”