Mattia Binotto, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2022

Ferrari were in a “very strong” position before Leclerc’s retirement – Binotto

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says that the team’s pit wall were “very, very sharp” on strategy in Baku prior to Charles Leclerc’s retirement.

Leclerc retired from the lead of Azerbaijan Grand Prix with a power unit problem. His team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr had already retired with a suspected hydraulic fault earlier in the race.

Ferrari have now suffered three race-ending mechanical failures in the last three races. Leclerc retired with power unit failure in the Spanish Grand Prix, also while leading. Two other Ferrari-powered customer cars – the Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas – also retired from yesterday’s race with mechanical problems.

Asked if the failures were caused due to problems Ferrari were previously familiar with, Binotto replied “honestly, not.”

“We still need to analyse and understand,” Binotto continued, “but I think if you look at the two [Ferrari] cars, certainly different problems. We had a hydraulic problem for Carlos first. Where it was coming from now we’ll look at the hydraulic system and hopefully we will identify it.

“On Charles, a different one. Certainly engine-related, I think that’s quite obvious by the smoke. Is it something we had in the past? I don’t think so, but maybe yes, we need to look as well at what happened to our customer teams.

“But again I don’t think that with the telemetry data we can have a clear answer of the problem. Components will be sent back to Maranello as usual, we need to disassemble, try to understand and to fix them as soon as possible.”

Leclerc had held a 12-second lead over Max Verstappen when he retired from the race. The team had taken advantage of a Virtual Safety Car period to pit Leclerc for hard tyres.

After Ferrari’s Monaco Grand Prix defeat put their strategic decisions under scrutiny, Binotto said he was happy with the performance of the pit wall in Azerbaijan, despite a slightly slow stop for Leclerc.

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“The pit stop itself went very well,” said Binotto in response to a question from RaceFans. “The tyres were fitted very, very soon on the car, we had the green light because the entire system works well.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in pictures
“But both the front and the rear jack I see went up, for whatever reason. I don’t know if they were linked, if the rear was the consequence of the front or vice-versa. It’s something which we need to look at, I have no answer yet.

“In general, the strategy, I think that the team has been very reactive at the time of the Virtual Safety Car, for Charles’ team, because he was already very close to the pit entry. We have been very, very sharp.”

Verstappen later claimed he believed he would have been able to catch Leclerc out in the lead of the race and pass him for the victory if the Ferrari had not retired. But Binotto says Ferrari felt “very strong” about Leclerc’s position in the race before his problem struck.

“Obviously it was still a very long race, you need to manage the tyres to the end,” he said. “The tyre degradation of the hard for what we saw was very little.

“We will look at all the numbers and I’m pretty sure everybody will have a forecast as to how the race would have finished. But we felt very strong, certainly, in the lead with a strong tyre and Charles was very happy with the car behaviour.”

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2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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15 comments on “Ferrari were in a “very strong” position before Leclerc’s retirement – Binotto”

  1. They got beat off the line, lucked into the lead, and blew up.

    ‘Very strong,’ neither of these is.

    1. Nor was that pitstop anything to be proud of (sure, both Max and Perez also had slowish stops, but RB did not say they went fine) @proesterchen.

      Ferrari were right with the pitstop call, but to say they were in a “very strong position” is putting a positive spin on it that the facts on the track did not meet up to

  2. Unfortunately, Ferrari hasn’t been “very strong” since about the Australian Grand Prix. One can appreciate the need to note the positives, but Ferrari has already squandered so many opportunities, not to mention points, that they’ll want to fix their issues soon, before this turns into a 2013-esque season for Red Bull.

    1. Ferrari was the car to beat in Barcelona and Monaco, wasn’t it?

      1. @fer-no65 pace wise absolutely, but I think MichaelN’s point was that if you have a fast car that doesn’t finish races, that’s not really a strong showing either.

        Sure, making a fast (but unreliable) car reliable is easier than making a reliable (but slow) car fast, but they’re losing points hand over fist. Over the past 5 weekends (5 races, 1 sprint race) Charles has scored 45 points out of a maximum total of 141 points. Max has scored 125/141.

      2. @fer-no65 There’s more to scoring points though. Since Australia, neither Ferrari has scored more than Russell, and Leclerc took only a few more points than Norris.

        Whether it’s driver errors, strategic mismanagement, or plain old unreliable construction – Ferrari has collectively done very little with their more than decent car.

  3. We were doing well until we weren’t – that’s visionary stuff right there.

    1. Hahaha

  4. Verstappen, indeed, would have caught up and overtaken leclerc. Ferrari doesn’t have a car on par with RBR and leclerc is unfortunately not as hungry as verstappen.

    1. I think Leclerc is motivated, but like seen before Ferrari seems to focus on Saturdays rather than Sundays. Perez is doing that as well, albeit you might label this a RB strategic choice. Very strange from Ferrari as Max easily sacrifices his Saturdays for wins on Sunday.

    2. I think they were going for a two stop and verstappen wouldn’t have been able to counter it. The Deg was high enough at the end of a stint that it could have worked

      1. Not so sure, Max was still consistently doing 1m46.9 in the end stint and that was with his engineer telling him to take it slow.

  5. Yes. Rome were once a powerful city before as well

  6. “If the patient hadn’t dead already he would be have been alive”

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