Fred Vasseur says Carlos Sainz was told not to attack Charles Leclerc at the Canadian Grand Prix as a team-mate battle would’ve been a “stupid” strategy as they looked to recover from a woeful qualifying.
Having made mistakes in Saturday’s qualifying where Ferrari left Charles Leclerc out on intermediate while the rest of the field pitted for slicks and also failing to inform Carlos Sainz of traffic in the form of Pierre Gasly, Leclerc and Sainz lined up 10th and 11th on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve grid.
Determined to make up positions with both drivers on one-stop strategies – medium-hard, Ferrari twice told Leclerc not to worry as Sainz “will not attack you” for position.
Instead the team-mates work their way up the order together to cross the line fourth and fifth with Sainz three seconds down on his team-mate.
Vasseur says it wasn’t a case of protecting Leclerc, rather it would’ve been “stupid” of Ferrari to allow their drivers to engage in a battle.
“No, it wasn’t that we wanted to protect someone, it was just strategy at this stage of the race was to push and to avoid losing time fighting together,” he said.
“We were trying to extend to create the gap to Ocon and Norris perhaps, I don’t know [Perez and Ocon, ed’s note]. To fight together and to lose time would’ve been stupid.”
As for Ferrari’s decision not pit Leclerc and Sainz when the Safety Car came out for George Russell’s accident, the team boss concedes that was a gamble.
It, however, was one that paid dividends with the drivers elevated up the order as others pitted.
“You always have some hesitation but what is quite obvious is that most of them told us that the pace was much better for them, when they were stuck in the traffic the potential was there,” he said.
“They said ‘just give us clean air’. The best way to do it was to not pit.
“For sure it’s kind of a gamble because if you have another Safety Car 18 laps later it’s a bit more difficult, but it was a good call, the best way to recover.”
But while the pit wall got it right on Sunday, Ferrari are holding talks this week to discuss Saturday’s errors – or at least that’s how Leclerc saw it.
Vasseur, though, is adamant leaving Leclerc out on the inters was the right call.
“At this stage the rain was coming, and we wanted to put a time on the board as soon as possible,” he said.
“If you pit at the end of lap one to put a set of softs on, then you have two laps to warm up the tyres and you postpone your first flying lap for five minutes. It was not the right strategy at this stage.
“I think the confusion came from the fact that he probably didn’t get the global picture of the qualy and so on.
“We have probably to improve some areas so that he has to put himself in our shoes sometimes.
“We can’t say that we did a good job [in qualifying]. I think the pace was mega, but we finished 10/11. So, it means something went wrong.”
Ferrari remain fourth in the Constructors’ Championship with 122 points, 34 behind Mercedes.