Mugello was certainly challenging on all fronts- not just for the drivers, but for the team management as well. And Ferrari felt the full force of the unknown on their 1000th Grand Prix at Tuscany. Charles Leclerc managed to secure P8, while Sebastian Vettel clinched a P10 in the race.
But according to Inaki Rueda, Ferrari’s Head of Race Strategy, it could have easily been a different result for Leclerc, had they had more information on the track circuit.
He was quoted as saying, “Going into the race, we thought a one stop would be possible, starting on Mediums and finishing on Hards. But with such a long start-finish straight there was a very high risk of losing places at the start.
“So the plan was to start on Softs and go to at least lap 25 before switching to Mediums. And if necessary, before lap 20, think of doing a two stopper.”
And they did exactly that, with Charles Leclerc joining the other drivers in the Top-10 to start on the Soft tires. Having clinched an exceptionally good start, Leclerc rode the outside line of pack leader Hamilton. Before slotting around Turn-1, into the P3 position.
But, things changed when the race was red-flagged owing to a tremendous crash around Lap 7. And Rueda believed it was better to switch to the Hards then, saving up on 22 seconds to make a pit stop.
However, the team eventually decided against it and retained the Softs for the restart. The plan was to pit and get in on the Mediums at a later stage. But the factors of standing restart and heavy tire degradation came into play.
And that forced Leclerc to pit in at Lap 22, switching to Rueda’s strategy of the Hards.
“At the start, his pace wasn’t bad and he managed to undercut Perez and Norris. Even if it was not enough, given that they both got past him again. We were hoping to go to the flag and, eventually, to make up a few places,” said Rueda.
The racing calendar sees the teams move to the Sochi Autodrom for the Russian Grand Prix next. Leclerc had quite the field day last time, finishing P3 and a place on the podium.
With no excuses for a lack of reference points and data, the primary aim for Ferrari would be to get their race strategy right.