Mattia Binotto insists race strategy is not a ‘weakness’ for Ferrari

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, in the pits during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2022.

Despite some questionable strategy calls so far in 2022, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto does not believe that area is a weakness for the team.

Ferrari certainly have the car to compete against Red Bull for the titles in 2022, the F1-75 consistently proving a match for the Red Bull RB18. But on the strategy front, on several occasions Ferrari have been lacking.

Most recently at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Ferrari decided to pit Charles Leclerc and put him onto the hard tyres, a compound which several drivers had been struggling on earlier in the race.

Leclerc had looked primed to win but, completely devoid of grip on the hard rubber, he fell out of contention and ultimately finished P6 after stopping again.

Ferrari also cost Leclerc the chance to win in Monaco, the same true at Silverstone where he was shuffled from P1 down to P4 at the chequered flag after Ferrari did not pit him for fresh tyres during a late Safety Car period.

And at the French Grand Prix their strategical calls hampered Carlos Sainz who, having just made it into third position, pitted at Ferrari’s request and ultimately finished P5.

Binotto, though, feels like such examples are not evidence of a flaw within the team.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Binotto said: “First of all, I think there is always a way to improve. You can’t be perfect and you never will be.

“I have no doubt we always need to take steps forward, we need to improve on aerodynamics, chassis, power unit, strategy and all the aspects that can be improved. Having said that, I think I have a great team that takes care of the strategy and I don’t think that’s a weakness of ours.

“Races like Monaco, Silverstone or Paul Ricard have been judged problematic on this front, but I don’t see the team as a problem because I think we have also made the right decisions.

“I’m not convinced what we did was wrong, I think we made what were the right decisions at the time they were made, and sometimes they turned out to be unfortunate, not wrong. And if we look at the work of our strategy team, sometimes they even did great things, better than the opponents.

“For example, in Austria we had the right strategy, unlike our opponents, just as we had probably the best strategy in France before Charles’ mistake.

“At Paul Ricard we had the courage to take two sets of medium tyres into the race, and to make a choice like that you have to be not only good but also brave. So, overall, we have a good team and I don’t think this is a weakness.

“We could start discussing, again, Monaco, Silverstone and Paul Ricard – from my point of view I think they were difficult decisions, maybe unfortunate but not always wrong. So I don’t think it’s our weakness at the moment.”

Binotto was then asked if a situation like Silverstone could be compared to the 2021 title decider in Abu Dhabi, where Mercedes did not pit Lewis Hamilton for fresh tyres when the Safety Car came out late on, feeling that was the right decision, while Red Bull did pit Max Verstappen, a call crucial in him going on to pass Hamilton and become World Champion.

“I too believe that was the right decision for Lewis,” Binotto replied. “Max was right, he won the championship, but if the opposite had happened [Hamilton making the pit stop and Verstappen staying on track] how would the World Championship have ended? We’ll never know.

“So if at Silverstone Charles had pitted, with Lewis likely to have stayed on track with fresh tyres anyway, how would the race have ended? I don’t know. Everyone thinks they can somehow discuss what we decided at Silverstone, but the reality is we will never have the answer.”

Read more: Conclusions from the F1 2022 season so far

Ferrari will go into the final nine races of this season with a huge mountain to climb if they wish to taste title glory in 2022.

Leclerc trails Verstappen by 80 points in the Drivers’ Championship, while Ferrari have 97 points to find on Red Bull.

Binotto though does not believe Ferrari need to do anything differently after the summer break.

“No, I think we simply have to continue our path of continuous improvement, step by step, focusing on every single race,” he affirmed.

“I am convinced we have the potential to win races and it doesn’t mean we have to change our approach – there is no magic wand in Formula 1. We have shown we can do a good job and we get there step by step, gaining experience and growing.”

 

Another day, another Ferrari disaster

Even Charles Leclerc labelled his strategy at Ferrari a "disaster" in Hungary.