Fred Vasseur has criticised his drivers for poor starts in Mexico that gave the “slipstream to everyone”, thus “losing control” of the Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz locked out the front row of the Mexican Grand Prix grid with Max Verstappen lining up in third place.
Although happy to have shown pace in qualifying, the teammates were quick to put out that they’d be at a disadvantage at the start of the race given the long run to Turn 1, over 800 metres.
Ferrari left to rue what could’ve been
That meant they’d most likely give a slipstream to everyone else with Sainz and Verstappen joking about swapping positions on the grid.
Alas, the laughter came to an abrupt end when Verstappen didn’t even need the slipstream to pass Sainz and then used Leclerc’s to take the lead into the first corner.
Such was the slipstream from the Ferraris, Sergio Perez tried to go from fifth to first only to crash into Leclerc as he turned in at Turn 1.
Damaging the Monégasque driver’s Ferrari, Perez retired from the race while Verstappen went on to claim the win ahead of Lewis Hamilton with Leclerc completing the podium ahead of Sainz.
It was, Vasseur says, not a satisfactory result with the team boss pointing the finger at his drivers for making poor starts and not being able to shake off the chasing pack.
“I’m not satisfied with the start. It’s not a question of management, it’s that we started badly and gave the slipstream to everyone, losing control of the situation,” he told Sky F1.
“First of all, if you start badly you lose ground from the others and lose the slipstream. This led Charles to being between Verstappen and Perez and, later, having contact with them. At that point part of the wing broke and we also had problems with Carlos.
“But the underlying problem is that we started badly because Max is already in front of Carlos after a few meters.”
But while Vasseur accepts while third and fourth are “not dramatic”, that Ferrari started 1-2 means it was not the result they were looking for.
“We’re not satisfied, it’s not a good result if we look at the grid,” he added.
“I would say, however, that the weekend isn’t so bad for the pace in qualifying and the pace in the first stint was also good despite having damage to the front wing on the car of Leclerc. We managed to stay close to Verstappen.
“But then we struggled on the restart with the Hard tyres. Our race got much worse after the restart, at least compared to others. Third and fourth place are not dramatic, but we have to do better next race.”
Leclerc believes he did the best he could do as he had to cope with a broken front wing that cost him downforce.
“We broke part of the front wing into Turn 1 and then on the radio, they told me that we were lacking, I think, 10 or 15 points,” he said.
“But to be honest, I managed to drive around it and it didn’t feel too bad. So that was positive.
“Of course, it’s never ideal to lose so many downforce points into Turn 1, but it’s like this, and then we managed to do a good race from that moment onwards. But of course, it compromised a little bit our race.”
Ferrari changed his front wing when the race was red flag for Kevin Magnussen’s high-speed crash but Leclerc reckons that didn’t fix all the problems caused by the crash.
“I don’t know if the car is completely fine. I think also we have to check it tonight because obviously when I saw Checo with his rear wheel touching my front wheel, I was like, okay, that’s done for me. And then I did two, three corners and it didn’t feel too bad.
“Obviously, not all great but not too bad and I could finish the race. So yeah, after the red flag we could fix the front wing, but it might be that we find also some other small things that weren’t in the right place.”