After a frantic opening period that saw Ferrari lose Sainz and regain the race lead, the team was wary of the threat posed by Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes driver racked up a delta tyre.
Ferrari asked Sainz to give up the position to Leclerc after noting that it would have been marginal for both cars to get ahead of Hamilton once Mercedes had pitted him. Hamilton emerged in third place after stopping, but was slowly catching up to the Ferraris thanks to his tire advantage.
A safety car called with 14 laps remaining prompted a series of late pit stops, but Ferrari opted to keep race leader Leclerc out and only bring in Sainz for a set of soft tyres.
Leclerc noted over the radio that it would be “difficult” to keep the chasing cars on soft tires behind him, and that proved to be the case. After losing the lead to Sainz heading into the Wellington Straight after the race resumed, he was overtaken by Sergio Pérez and Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages.
Leclerc admitted after the race that it was “disappointing” to have missed out on victory, having seen his main rival for the F1 title, Max Verstappen, only finish seventh due to bodywork damage.
Asked by Motorsport.com why Ferrari took on Sainz instead of Leclerc, team principal Mattia Binotto said he was “too close to stop them both”, which led to Leclerc being kept out due to his weaker tyres. new ones and their position on the track.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, battles with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar/Motorsport Images
“There wasn’t enough space to stop both of them, because the second one would have lost time at the pit stop and would have gotten back on track,” Binotto said.
“Why then, when deciding to stop just one, why did we decide to stop Carlos? Because Charles got track position. He was leading, so he would have remained the race leader.
“His tires were fresher than Carlos’s. He had, I think, six or seven laps less than Carlos in better shape.
“And Carlos, by stopping and being second, would have protected himself at least in the first couple of corners where we knew starting strong would have been a bit more difficult. That was the reason we decided.
“Then we were expecting more tire degradation on the softs, to give Charles, yeah, maybe three or four hard laps initially, but then recover later, but the soft didn’t degrade as we expected.
Binotto thought Ferrari’s decisions on race strategy were “the right and appropriate ones at the time”, with the only possible mistake being the call to keep Leclerc out rather than in.
“If we had stopped, maybe the others would have been left out, and maybe they would have been fourth on soft tires with other cars ahead of him,” Binotto said.
“Would I have regained the positions? I’m not sure. I think in hindsight it’s always easy to say we could have done it differently.
“We once again had a safety car at the wrong time where we were comfortably leading the race at the time.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, in Parc Fermé
Photo by: Steven Tee/Motorsport Images
Binotto and Leclerc were seen chatting immediately after the race at Silverstone, but the Ferrari team boss says it was just him trying to comfort his driver after he “got unlucky again”.
“First, I knew he was disappointed and frustrated, which is understandable because he was clearly leading the race and was comfortable going very fast by the time the safety car came out.
“And for him today was a great opportunity in terms of the championship because he was leading while Max had some problems.
“Then the safety car came out, he had a tough end of the race, let me say, and he was definitely disappointed.
“So when I met him I knew he was disappointed. But what I told him is you did a fantastic race once again, because you did a fantastic first lap of the race fighting.
“And then after the restart behind the pace car again, the way he was driving and protecting the position is amazing and outstanding.”
“So I told him to just keep calm, because the way he was driving was fantastic.”
“He was unlucky again today, because a safety car when you’re leading a few laps to the end, it’s kind of unlucky. And I think generally that’s why I think we just try not to be too disappointed.”