Pundits lay into ‘dithering’ Ferrari after a ‘nowhere’ British Grand Prix

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz looks into the distance as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc lurks in the background at the Austrian Grand Prix. Styria, July 2023.

Carlos Sainz looks into the distance as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc lurks in the background at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix.

From winning the race last season to not even reaching the podium this year, David Croft has blamed a “dithering” pit wall for Ferrari’s latest fall from grace.

Last season Carlos Sainz came from pole position to win the British Grand Prix, a race in which either Ferrari driver could have stepped onto the top step of the podium.

This season there were no champagne celebration with the Scuderia’s Sunday instead marred by yet more pit wall indecisiveness.

A ‘terrible’ weekend for Ferrari

Running fourth and sixth early in the grand prix, both Charles Leclerc and Sainz having started on the medium tyres, it was clear to everyone in the pit lane that the tyre degradation in general was a lot lower than expected.

That, though, didn’t stop Ferrari from pitting their drivers for hard tyres.

It was a decision that was questioned by many at the time and one that imploded as the Safety Car came out when Kevin Magnussen’s engine failed, leaving his Haas stranded on the track.

That meant Ferrari were forced to swap to a two-stop strategy for Leclerc, the first of the front runners to pit having done so as early as lap 17, while Sainz stayed out on his hard tyres.

They crossed the line ninth and tenth with Sainz losing three places in one lap alone.

Team boss Fred Vasseur concedes they went too conservative on the day.

“I didn’t have the crystal ball on the pit wall and the plan was to do medium-hard and it was I think the case for McLaren, it was really on the edge between medium-hard and medium-soft and some teams did medium-hard,” he said.

“We put the hard on 10 laps before the Safety Car with Charles, and bit later with Carlos, and the Safety Car was a bad situation for us for sure that.

“Bit it’s not only this, I think that we had also a small lack of pace and were probably were a bit too conservative.

“Too conservative with the tyres as we were expecting more deg and we didn’t push enough I think. That was it.”

Sky Sports pundit Croft wasn’t an understanding as he accused Ferrari’s pit wall of “dithering” instead of making decisive decisions that would help the drivers.

“It’s interesting,” he said, “Ferrari before the race said crucially today you’ve got to get your strategy right, and you’ve got to make a decision to go with it.

“But then we see the same dithering coming back again.

“This is such a big disappointment for Ferrari, who tomorrow go a whole year since they last won a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

“They’ve come back to a track that they won from pole last year and they’ve been nowhere in the race really.”

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His fellow pundit Karun Chandhok reckons Ferrari’s ever-present tyre problems didn’t help the situation.

That, though, was little excuse for what he billed as a “terrible” weekend for the Italian stable.

“I think with Leclerc they pitted too early, and it forced him into a two-stop at that point,” said the former F1 driver. “He would have had such a delta when everyone pitted under the Safety Car that he would have been eaten alive so they had no choice but to pit again.

“With Carlos I think they still suffer so much with tyre wear that they couldn’t go longer and put the soft on. So they were kind of boxed into what they had to do.

“But ultimately, it’s a terrible weekend in terms of pace because they’ve been outpaced by their three midfield competitors and I say three because it includes McLaren.”

Meanwhile Ralf Schumacher summed it up to Sky Deutschland by saying the result was “not satisfactory”.

He added: “Although it was cool, the tyre problem was there. Sainz was completely off the roll when he was overtaken, that was almost embarrassing.”

Read more: Ferrari fire back at George Russell after complaints about Charles Leclerc