Flavio Briatore has had a go at Ferrari for messing up their Italian Grand Prix strategy – but Christian Horner says he understands the timing of Charles Leclerc’s first pit-stop.
Leclerc lined up on pole position for Ferrari’s home race, the crowd at Monza dreaming of a first victory for their team there since Leclerc’s 2019 win.
But with Max Verstappen making short work of his grid penalty, the Red Bull driver quickly up into P2 and closing fast, Ferrari took advantage of a Virtual Safety Car period for Sebastian Vettel’s stricken Aston Martin to bring the race leader in.
That effectively put him onto a two-stop strategy, which is not the ideal one around Monza.
Even in his third stint, Leclerc running brand new soft tyres, he was unable to close in on the championship leader, Verstappen 16 seconds up the road when the Safety Car came out and neutralised the race.
Former Renault team boss Briatore has billed it as just another Ferrari mistake.
“It’s incredible how Ferrari manage to mess it up in every race,” he told F1-Insider.com.
Binotto, though, defended Ferrari’s strategy, telling Auto Motor und Sport they knew their F1-75 did not have the pace to win and so rolled the dice.
“The Red Bull was the faster car,” said the Italian. “If we had gone up against him with the same strategy, we would never have beaten him.
“Two stops were basically not wrong because you never know what will happen later in the race.
“For us, playing poker was without risk.”
Told of Binotto’s comment, Briatore replied: “Incredible!”
But while Briatore does not buy Binotto’s story, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner defended Ferrari’s strategy as he revealed Red Bull would have pitted Verstappen under the VSC had Ferrari not called Leclerc in.
“We understood why they did that,” he said, quoted by Motorsport.com. “I think we just had a faster car. I think strategically they made a fine call.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 12, 2022
“I think we just had a quicker package. So I think we would have won the race irrelevant to that.”
Binotto agrees, Verstappen had the pace no matter what.
“It’s not difficult to beat a faster car, it’s impossible,” said the Italian. “Normally you win if you have the faster car and you may only get it wrong with strategies.
“Whatever has been the strategy [for Max] he would have won, that is the point.”
The Monza result, with Verstappen first ahead of Leclerc, means the reigning World Champion extended his lead in the standings to 116 points over the Ferrari driver. The Scuderia are 139 behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.