Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said Charles Leclerc was kept out during the Safety Car period at Silverstone in order to preserve track position.
When the Safety Car was deployed due to Esteban Ocon’s stricken Alpine, Ferrari made the call to pit Carlos Sainz for soft tyres but they left their race leader Leclerc out on his used hard tyres.
Once the race restarted, Sainz soon made the overtake, dismissing Ferrari’s “invention” to give Leclerc 10 car lengths of space as the track returned to green.
As Sainz went on to win, Leclerc dropped behind Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton, narrowly fending off Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris to finish P4.
Sky Sports F1 asked Binotto why Ferrari chose not to double-stack their drivers, to which he replied: “I suppose because we believed that…I’m pretty sure we didn’t have enough space between the two cars to stop both of them. So we had to make a choice between the first or second car.
“So we decided to stop Carlos simply because Charles had the track position and he was still leading and remained leader of the race at the time.
“So you don’t know what the others would have done, if he would have stopped as the leader. So for us it was clear – not stopping Charles, keeping track position and stopping Carlos, he was the only one we could have stopped and then we were hoping for more tyre degradation on the softs. That didn’t happen.”
Asked if Sainz could have backed off a little to create a window to double-stack, Binotto said: “We thought not, as simple as that. Because the others were just behind and you cannot lose even a second at the pit-stop trying to organise it.
“So for us it was clear, we keep track position with Charles and stopping Carlos. Obviously, with the insight now being on softs would have been better. But that’s not what we thought was the right decision.”
Mattia Binotto telling Charles Leclerc something after the race. pic.twitter.com/lqPAfdFX3j
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After the race, Binotto was seen wagging a finger at Leclerc as they talked in parc ferme, leading to the theory he was being told off for criticising Ferrari’s strategy on the team radio.
Binotto said though he was actually trying to emphasise to his driver that despite the disappointment, his performance in the race was “fantastic”.
Theorised that the exchange was about telling Leclerc not to be critical publicly, instead having internal discussions on such issues, Binotto responded: “There is nothing to sort out internally, I think it was simply to tell him ‘I understand your disappointment but you did a fantastic race today’, fighting at the start, fighting later on when he was on hards and the others on softs.
“I think the way he was driving there, protecting the position, was amazing. So obviously being happy is difficult, but staying calm and I think being positive is important.”
Despite claiming pole position in the wet conditions, Sainz at times in the race was not the faster Ferrari driver but Binotto said it is the Spaniard’s strength that he seizes any opportunity.
It marked Sainz’s first Formula 1 victory, a “deserved” achievement in Binotto’s eyes.
“I think that’s the strength of Carlos, always being there, try to be there and get the opportunity,” said Binotto.
“As yesterday in qualy, maybe the other two made small mistakes but he did a consistent lap and he made pole, so that’s his strength – be consistent to the end, to the chequered flag, and get the opportunity when the opportunity is coming.
“And for him, I’m really very happy because his first victory I think was important for him, with Ferrari even more important, so I’m very pleased and I think he deserved it.”