Ferrari ‘too ambitious’ with Norris undercut

Mark Scott
Lando Norris Carlos Sainz McLaren Ferrari

Lando Norris Carlos Sainz

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says the team’s impatience trying to overtake Lando Norris cost them dearly at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Scuderia were hoping to make it a third consecutive race with both Ferrari cars in the points, but the run ended in Portimao after Carlos Sainz slid down the field on race day.

Starting from P5 on the grid, Sainz, the quickest qualifying driver outside of the Mercedes/Red Bull front-running battle, would finish outside of the points in P11 because of a strategy error from Ferrari.

An early attempt to perform the undercut on Norris via the pits eventually turned Sainz into somewhat of a sitting duck and Binotto conceded the team were a little too eager, too ambitious, to try and get one over their main rivals for P3 this season, McLaren.

“For sure we go home disappointed from this race,” Binotto told Sky Italia.

“We wanted a better result. Portimao could have favour us compared to our competitors but it didn’t go like that.

Already in qualifying we have not been perfect, with Charles for example. And in the race, if I think at the first stint, Carlos all in all was as fast as Norris, maybe a bit more.

“Then we tried an undercut that didn’t work. On the contrary it put Carlos in trouble for the rest of the race.

“He had to push too early and too much with the medium tyres. He had a lot of graining, and this pushed him out of the points zone.

“We’ve been too ambitious wanting to overtake Norris in that moment of the race, when we could have been more patient.

“The race was still long, we could wait. Maybe in that moment we exaggerated in our ambition of wanting to overtake Norris.”

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It was Sainz’s first time outside of the points since his first-lap accident at the 2020 Russian Grand Prix and he too put his eventual race troubles down to the strategy call.

“Honestly the race pace all weekend was looking good,” explained Sainz.

“I don’t think the race pace was the issue, it was just that we got it wrong with the strategy of pushing on the tyres and we didn’t get things right today.

“It was also looking decent up until then. We were putting pressure on Lando and we went for the undercut and unfortunately, we didn’t make it stick.

“We exited behind a Williams, I had to push really hard to try and do the undercut and we opened up the graining on the medium tyre,” he added.

“We know how important those three laps at the beginning of each stint are and I pushed like hell to try and get the undercut on Lando and in hindsight, it was too much pushing too early, and trying too hard to try and get one position – and in hindsight we shouldn’t have gone for it.”

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla

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