Vasseur defends Ferrari strategy: “We have to take risks”

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Tension was in the air between Carlos Sainz and the Ferrari pitwall during the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Montecarlo circuit doesn’t leave much space for overtaking, so that strategy becomes the real game changer with the timing of the call to the pits of fundamental importance.

For Ferrari, it was precisely a critical calling timing to unleash the frustration and anger of their driver who, in the adrenaline of the moment, expressed his rage opening the radio: “What the f***! This is exactly what I talked about. This is weak.”

Sainz apologized after the race, showing remorse for the strong words used, saying “I shouldn’t have showed it on the radio.”

Let’s dive into what happened: on Lap 33 the Ferrari driver is called into the pits, just one lap after the Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

Until that moment, Sainz had been stuck behind the Frenchman, so that could have been the first opportunity to increase the pace, since he was saving his tyres before then, and finally he could potentially gain the position.

Instead, despite a slow stop from Alpine, the premature call ruined the possible opportunity. In the end, Sainz didn’t manage to overcut Ocon.

“Obviously, I was very quick on the in-lap and felt like I still had a lot more lap time to come in clean air. I had been doing all that management. To suddenly pit, it left me frustrated,” commented the Spaniard.

After the race, Fred Vasseur had defended the strategy taken, underling that the real aim of the pit was actually to preserve the position from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who was setting rapid laps on his new set of hard tyres after his stop.

“I think it was a good strategy because when we asked him to pit it was to avoid losing a position against Hamilton.

“Positions are key on this track. It would have been better to extend if we were not at risk from Hamilton, but in this situation I think it was the good call.”

Stuck behind Ocon again, Sainz opted for a move “a bit optimistic and on the edge”, according to Vasseur, and tried to overtake the Alpine at the chicane ending by damaging his front wing.

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Continuing to analyze the strategy adopted on Sunday, Vassuer on the choice of extend the first stints of both drivers hoping to cover the arrival of the rain, added:

”At one stage we had to cover the other ones on track to avoid losing position and it’s always easy to redo the race after 5:30 and say ‘okay, if you extend the stint then you can change the tyres when it’s raining.

“But we didn’t know at this stage, and we were in the situation to lose positions compared to our competitors.”

When rain finally arrived Ferraris pitwall decided to stay out with both cars and do one more lap on slicks, which caused a spin of Sainz at Mirabeau, while Ocon and both Mercedes came into the pits early.

Regarding that choice, Vasseur called it a risk “worth taking” to try and recover a podium, even though it turned out to be not the right one as Leclerc and Sainz dropped behind Hamilton, with the Spaniard also losing another position to Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.

“We were expecting that the track wouldn’t be so wet and that if you don’t have to put the wet [tyres], that we could have finished on the podium,” the Frenchman explained.

“It was the gamble for us, the risk was not too high because we didn’t lose position. But it is like it is.

“We knew perfectly on the grid that if we want to achieve something, we have to take risks. I’m not disappointed at all with the risks that we took.

Eventually the Ferraris drivers crossed the line in sixth and eighth respectively, having stated fourth and sixth on the grid.