Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2019

Binotto admits Ferrari “screwed up” in qualifying

2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted they “screwed up” by failing to get Charles Leclerc to the start line in time to begin his final lap.

Leclerc caught team mate Sebastian Vettel at the end of his out-lap in Q3 and ran out of time to begin his lap as he waited for Vettel to start his.

Binotto said the team took the gamble of sending its cars out last because they wanted to take maximum advantage from the improving track conditions.

“Obviously we knew that we are not too competitive today,” he told Sky. “Especially losing a lot of time in the last sector. In the last attempt we tried to do whatever we could, taking some risks.”

Binotto said it was a “conscious choice” by the team to go out at the “very last minute”. However they left it “too tight”, he said. “We screwed up,” Binotto added.

However he defended the team’s gamble. “I think here we were completely aware and conscious of what could of been the risks,” he said. “It was a risk we knew that we were taking but this didn’t work today.”

Leclerc said he had “no idea” what happened ahead of him which prevented him from being able to start his lap on time. “It’s life sometimes,” he said.

[icon2019autocoursempu]”I don’t know whether the situation was unlucky or whether we could have done anything better. But we’ll analyse it and try to understand for it to not happen again because it’s a big shame.”

Vettel said other cars in front of him prevented him from leaving his team mate enough time to start his lap. “Alex [Albon] was backing up because he had a McLaren in front of him,” he said. “I don’t know who was in front of the McLaren or whether the McLaren could be closer.”

“It was just a pity because my tyres were very cold to start with and I lost it straight in the first corner and Charles didn’t even start a lap.”

Team radio from last run in Q3

Sebastian Vettel

To Vettel:You have Albon 16 seconds in front and Charles three seconds behind.
To Vettel:You have five seconds margin, you have five seconds margin.
To Vettel:Get close to Albon, five seconds margin, 12 seconds in front, Albon.
To Vettel:Speed up now. Albon in front 10 seconds.
To Vettel:Charles is five seconds behind.
Vettel:They’re queueing.
To Vettel:We need to go now, go now.
Vettel:There’s a queue.
To Vettel:Five seconds.
To Vettel:That’s it.
To Vettel:You can push, you can push.

Charles Leclerc

To Leclerc:Track is clear, track clear.
To Leclerc:We are a bit tight on the out-lap.
To Leclerc:We have five second margin.
To Leclerc:We need 30 seconds apex 14.
To Leclerc:Sebastian in front at 5.2.
Leclerc:How much margin?
To Leclerc:Zero margin. We need to push.
Leclerc:We’re not going to make it. Seb is slowing down.
To Leclerc:OK keep going, keep going, we will.
To Leclerc:Mode push for last corner.
To Leclerc:And keep doing.
Leclerc:Ah well.
To Leclerc:So stay negative, stay negative. Slow button on.

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Keith Collantine
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15 comments on “Binotto admits Ferrari “screwed up” in qualifying”

  1. Ferrari really need a “reset” button. I’ve been a fan of theirs since I was a child during the Schumacher years. Leclerc has so much talent, but I dont think Ferrari is the team for him at this stage. The team haven’t done much in helping Vettel show his talent. Alonso also couldn’t showcase his talent during his time. On an operational basis, I think they’re the worst performing team on the grid. Even Haas seems to be doing a better job.

    Is it really worth it coming out waaaaay last just for the couple of split seconds the lap gives you between the guy coming out first? I’d understand if this was Monza or Spa. They seem to do this all the time.

    1. @lebz Vettel had plenty chance to show his talents though. Just look back over 2017 and 2018. Actually, in 2019 he did a lot of nice pirouettes too. Even taking out the occasional car here and there.

      1. Alright then.

        I don’t really understand how your reply relates to what I said. Help me understand please.

        1. @lebz @f1osaurus is saying Ferrari did give Vettel a decent enough car to show off his talents and win the championship even in 2017 and 2018, but made too many mistakes, along with the team’s own mistakes I guess. Certainly he had a more competitive car than Alonso ever had at Ferrari. To be fair, in some ways, that may be down to Vettel’s imput and work with the team, much more harmonious than Alonso. But it remains the case he’s underperformed (for a 4x world champion) over the last 3 seasons.

        2. @lebz, @david-br Well I was actually referring to Vettel’s “talents” to spin the car around or hit other cars (or walls). He’s given us ample demonstrations of those.

          But yeah, he sure had the car to win the championship in 2017 and the outright best car of the field overall in 2018. Clearly 2019 he could have shown a lot better results too. At least a driver like for instance Alonso could have.

          Alonso was performing pretty much at the peak the car was capable of. So indeed the car was holding him back.

          For 2017 they pumped an extra 100 million into developing the engine and the car has not been the issue since. The drivers is what cost them 2 titles in seasons before and a lot of wins this season (like Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Austria, Russia, Japan and Mexico)

  2. That’s what everyone always uses as an excuse to try and justify leaving everything unnecessarily tight with the timing.

  3. So stay negative, stay negative

    Ha, ha, that’s the right way to encourage a driver after an epic fail :)

  4. Raise people from inside might be a good practice but it hasnt been working for ferrari lately.
    I’m not sure whether Todt and Brawn – the last winning principals – were Ferrari insider.

  5. Was there any race where Ferrari did not screw up this year? 2019 for Ferrari has been the year of ‘screw ups in epic ways’.

  6. Alonso was right after all? Those were some of his complains…

    It is like fitting the wrong tyre. It can only happen once. You cannot make those mistakes twice in F1. You learn from it and make sure it never happens again.

    Some said Schumacher was lucky. He was lucky indeed to have a well organized team behind him, best engineers and a sharp team principal. What Leclerc needs now is that kind of luck.

  7. Except for Canada, the stewards were very kind to Ferrari. It could have been a very ugly season. I think they have a better car than they think they have. Management allows the drivers excuses for not performing by blaming the cars. Both drivers have fragile minds. I think RIC in one of those cars would have finished in the points more often.

  8. And so the years ends the same way it started, with Ferrrari conspiring to shoot themselves in the foot.


    Has anyone a calculation for the potential points lost to their collective incompetence?

  9. Motorsport-total did an analysis over 2018. They estimated that Ferrari (mostly Vettel) wasted 142 points. ie Vettel should have been WDC with a 54 points margin rather than trailing by 88 points.

  10. Ferrari are foolish. Forget the fact that Leclerc didn’t even get to put a lap time in.. That’s an error you would expect from a team that is as operationally poor as Ferrari is, but the bigger blunder is starting Vettel on softs.

    I don’t even know how Ferrari strategists think. I’m sure a light bulb lit up in one of their heads when they decided to put the slower qualifier on an aggressive strategy of starting on the fastest tyre so he can try and overtake drivers in front on the opening laps. Let’s not forget that this slower driver is a terrible wheel to wheel racer, and usually spins by himself or makes contact in a majority of his overtakes.

    Such a degree of foolishness has now become synonymous with Ferrari’s strategy.

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