Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2022

Ferrari defend “proper and right” decision to pit Sainz after he passed Perez

2022 French Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is sure the team made the correct decision to pit Carlos Sainz Jnr in the closing stages of the French Grand Prix, even though he had just moved into third place.

Sainz had risen from 19th on the grid to pass Sergio Perez for third place by the 41st lap of 53. He had a five-second time penalty to serve after he was unsafely released in front of Alexander Albon’s Williams during his pit stop.

That, and concern over the life of his medium compound tyres, led Ferrari to bring him in for a second pit stop, Binotto explained. Radio messages between Sainz and Ferrari indicated some indecision over whether or not to pit. Sainz later said “I don’t understand why we boxed, we would have pulled away”.

However Binotto was certain the team made the right call. “The choice we made was the proper and the right one,” he told RaceFans and other media after the race.

“I think that Carlos from the cockpit, from the heat, does not have all the information so for him was difficult to judge. But no doubt that I think we made the right choice.

“At first we were trying to extend the stint as much as possible to have the best freedom, the tyre life, to make sure we are not overshooting any decisions in terms of tyre life.

“As soon as we got all the information which were required, we realised that there was not sufficient tyre life to go to the end of the race. As simple as that. To stay out would have been risk in terms of safety and reliability in terms of tyre life. So we had to stop.

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“More than that I think that the pace of Carlos would not have been sufficient to open the gap more than five seconds to Perez and Russell to cover the five-second penalty. So it was important, it was right to stop.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2022
Gallery: 2022 French Grand Prix in pictures
“By doing that we had the fastest lap of the race, which still was a point, important points for the team and for Carlos. So once again, I think what we did was a good choice, waiting the right moment, having all the data and making the proper [call].”

The pit stop dropped Sainz to eighth place. He worked his way back up to fifth, but his progress was delayed when a Virtual Safety Car period was triggered.

After the race he said he will “have to trust the numbers” were correct in showing that staying out was the wrong thing to do.

“I’m sure when they show me the numbers and the data from the tyres that they strongly believed I wouldn’t have made it to the end,” Sainz said. “We have to trust the numbers, because this is what we base our strategies on.

“I’m sure they did it with the best of intentions. Obviously when you are P3, in a podium position after starting last, the last thing you want to do is box, get out of the way and lose 32 seconds in the pit stop. But that’s why maybe I was more willing to take some extra risk there. The team in the end played it safe with the tyres, which I totally understand, and we will have to analyse together.”

Sainz admitted he was reluctant to pit after finally getting in front of Perez, despite his team’s concerns about his tyre life. “I think they were convinced that was a good lap to stop, even with the battle with Checo,” he said.

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“With the team, I think it’s a typical discussion. You are on a two-stop, but suddenly you realise that you’re P4, P3, trying to make it to the end and the team asks you ‘can you make it to the end’?. I’m like, ‘let me think about it a bit,’ because I need to feel a bit the tyres and see what’s going to happen. In the end, I was the one who told them ‘I don’t think it’s possible’, but then I passed Checo and in clean air I say ‘fuck, I’m P3, let’s try it’.

“Finally I made it past Checo, risking my life out there and then in that point I was like, ‘yeah, let’s try to finish on the podium’ because I knew the pit stop was going to cost me 32 seconds. In the end, they have more numbers than me, so I followed the instruction of ‘pit in’. I’m sure that we will analyse it together, they will explain to me why they took that decision and you need to understand that the team is in the best position to take that decision.”

At the end of one of his strongest weekends of the season, Sainz says that despite only being rewarded with fifth place, he is satisfied with his performance across all three days in France.

“I feel like, without the penalty, this would have been a race weekend where we could have fought for pole position and the win,” he said.

“Even with the penalty, with a perfect race – with a normal pit stop and no penalty and everything – we could have got to the podium, which is actually a very strong weekend. A very good weekend for me as a driver, a weekend that gives me confidence. In the end, this P5 with the point for fastest lap, I will take it. But for sure it’s a confidence-building weekend.”

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2022 French 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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38 comments on “Ferrari defend “proper and right” decision to pit Sainz after he passed Perez”

  1. Sure, off course Ferrari are going to defend their decision making. But the line

    “By doing that we had the fastest lap of the race, which still was a point, important points for the team and for Carlos. So once again, I think what we did was a good choice, waiting the right moment, having all the data and making the proper [call].”

    clearly shows their thinking.

    They seem more like bookkeeping and looking at the numbers on paper than reading the race. Perez tyres seemed to be worse than what Sainz had. And Gasly had the same tyres of the same age as Sainz and was able to pass and go solid straight to the end. It was clear that the mediums were working very well, the hards less so.

    Not the first time Sainz seemed to be reading the race better than the pitwall either.

    1. You’re right. Definitely Sainz was the one to listen to. Ferrari need to learn to accept when they have got their strategy wrong.
      It was definitely NOT the right time to stop.
      If they were so hell bent on stopping, then they should have stopped him at least 3 laps earlier, before Sainz wasted so much time trying to pass Perez, and giving him more opportunity to catch up again.
      Ferrari let Sainz down in his 1st stop. Unnecessarily long, and then not holding from an unsafe release. Not championship winning quality sadly.

      1. I thought the same too.
        It always feels like the Ferrari strategy team are always searching for files in a carbinet to read out their strateg by which time a lot has changed.

      2. @eurobrun

        If they had run the numbers correctly, they would have pitted Sainz just when he caught up to Russell. This decision was as bad as the Monaco one.

    2. Difficult Call. Don’t forget, Sainz was on mediums, and had raced quite hard on them. Those saying Perez was worse forget that he was on the slower hard compound, but these last way longer. In my opinion, if Ferr thought the tires wouldn’t last, they should’ve brought him in again at lap 36 (When he was stuck behind Perez) He would’ve entered the track in 11th, but on the fresh mediums it would’ve been like cutting trough butter, and he would’ve had 20 laps to return on the backs of the, by then, slower Mercs and Redbulls… Maybe Redbull would’ve covered with Sergio, but I doubt that since he was between the Mercs, and they were out of fresh mediums…

  2. Seems that the much stiffer construction of the low profile tyre is solving Pirelli’s reliability issues. The tyre was not going to fail. Ferrari lost a few points today.

    1. Possibly. Anyway, I think the idea is that winning the WCC is even more unlikely than winning the WDC, also SAI has equally less chances in the WDC… so, preventing VER from collecting all possible points (against LEC) is/should be the goal. SAI might have lost a podium, but he got a FL for his personal stats. Not that bad.

  3. Neil (@neilosjames)
    24th July 2022, 21:57

    To stay out would have been risk in terms of safety and reliability in terms of tyre life.

    It makes sense with that sentence. And if they admit taking the FLAP point off Verstappen was a factor too.

    Otherwise, I didn’t see how it made sense – purely for Sainz’s race, not the team game – to stop when he did. Even if his tyres had given up so badly he averaged 1.5 seconds per lap slower, he’d have ended up 5th anyway. The potential for a podium and the extra points were surely worth it, but if there was a safety concern I guess that overrules anything else.

  4. Gasly pitted for mediums at the same time as Sainz, didn’t pit, continued to make progress passing Magnussen and Albon on hards. However his laptimes were slower than Sainz and his car may be easier on its tyres.

  5. Had Sainz stayed out, surely in worse case scenario he would have finished in 5th? Where he finished anyhow. So why not take the chance to finish higher up? A double error from Ferrari given they made the unsafe release too.

    1. If Ferrari were sure he wouldn’t make it to the end, or at least not with enough pace to be 5 seconds ahead of George and Checo then it makes sense.

      Their thinking is stay out, get P5, no chance of fastest lap, and risk Carlos going off like Leclerc did on old tyres. Alternatively they pit, still get P5, get fastest lap, and be completely safe on tyres.

      The question is whether their assumptions about his old mediums were correct. The bigger question for me is whether his first stop was the right idea. I get that a cheap stop under the safety car is pretty valuable here, but it effectively forced him onto a two stop. If he’d stayed out on the hard tyre, picked up track position on all the cars pitting to remove the mediums, and pitted much later as originally planned I’m sure that would have been faster overall.

  6. The Ferrari strategy was to take a point from VER and didn’t care where SAI finished as long as it was top 10. SAI finishing 2nd and VER getting win and fastest lap does not help LEC. Sacrifice.

    1. This why they didn’t pit SAI until they did. They needed to make sure the VER HAM gap prevented a free pit stop. If VER could pit, SAI would have been told to race to end.

      1. Ham blocked Ver from a free stop, Sergio blocked Ham from a free stop, Sergio was tricky due to tire availability and Russel being too close, so basically also blocked.
        Only if Mercedes pulled Russel, the others were going to follow, for sure.
        Had Redbull had a new set of Mediums available, they might’ve gambled on Sergio to cover Sainz on the next laps. (don’t forget Sainz would’ve had a bit of traffic to clear first, before chewing 1.5 to 2s a lap from the leaders in free air.
        In the case of Perez also pitting, Lewis and Max might’ve chosen to take the free stop while it was available.
        End result is that Sainz should’ve stopped sooner, or not at all, IMHO

  7. I think too many people use hindsight in the criticism and mock it because its Ferrari. There is no doubt pitting at the First safety car was necessary for Sainz so at that point he was locked into a 2 stop or a long stint on the medium.

    Everyone is quick to criticise the Ferrari strategy but I think it’s pretty clear they were holding out hope of a 2nd safety car to get a cheap stop. Had that happened they’d likely have been on Russell’s tail with fresher tyres to attack the cars in front with a bunched up field.

    Sure, now we know a safety car wasn’t forthcoming in time, they should have just pitted 5 laps earlier and not lost as much time trying to pass Perez but it was worth a gamble on turning a 5th into 2nd. Once they aborted that idea they had to decide if the tyres would last or not and whether they’d get the 5s gap they needed. In all likelihood they wouldn’t though and hence they’d have finished 5th with no fastest lap.

    Had they pitted earlier for the second stop they still wouldn’t have finished above 5th. Had they stuck out a one stop its unlikely they’d have got 3rd no matter what some might think. I think Ferrari had more data on the tyres than the average fan and also its worth noting not all cars wear tyres at the same rate.

    Ultimately the Ferrari strategy was compromised by that first safety car which helped the vast majority of the field.

    1. There is no doubt pitting at the First safety car was necessary for Sainz so at that point he was locked into a 2 stop or a long stint on the medium.

      With or without hindsight that’s an incorrect statement:
      1) Gasly made an easy 1 stop strategy after going to the mediums at the SC;
      2) Ferrari was openly discussing with Sainz if he preferred a 1 stop or 2 stop when he was trying to pass Perez. Clearly not ‘locked in’.

      1. Gasly is driving a different car that might not wear the tyres as much so your point about him is irrelevant. Ferrari said they were borderline for wear, I’d trust them over you.

        I said he was either locked into a 2 stop or 1 stop on that medium tyre, that’s factually correct as they were the only two viable options. The only variance realistically was when the 2nd stop might happen and what tyre they might have chosen.

        The entire point of the sentence is that Ferrari had to take the chance on that safety car stop to reduce that 36 second time loss of his pit stop. Once they made that decision which was a very easy one to make it limited their optimal options for the remainder of the race.

  8. For God’s sake bring Alonso back.
    He can do a better job strategizing than Binotti while he’s driving.

    1. 100%. He could call strategy for two teams while driving. It is simply stunning to see organizations like that to make forehead slapping mistakes so often. This one was beyond dense though. Stunningly aloof or clueless. That or they wanted to take MV’s fast lap point and won’t admit it.

    2. I wish RBR would put him in that second Red Bull.
      Alonso has proven to be the perfect teammate when the other driver is faster or better positioned. And he is by far the best understanding the way the race is developing and keeping faster cars behind.

    3. Smartlonso as always. This race still he decided to play his “you will destroy your tyres in my little DRS train” technique, and it worked quite well as Ocon was able to catch and overtake Ricciardo. And if Ocon had not damaged his front wing who knows if he would have been able to overtake Norris as well with the help of Alonso. Playful for sure !

  9. I think the decision was 50/50 and none of us have the information to know which way to go but the issue was their indecisiveness. They should have boxed before being held up by Perez or not and definitely not during the overtake.

    I don’t think Ferrari are as bad as strategy as they’re accused of, it just gets jumped on when they are, but today was not a good day.

    1. I don’t think Ferrari are as bad as strategy as they’re accused of, it just gets jumped on when they are, but today was not a good day.

      Agree. Realized that quite some time ago. It seems Ferrari stirs up extreme emotions, positive or negative, more than any other team. See all the drama from 2002 Austria, yet the same stuff with BOT at Mercedes…. is just a logical thing to do, help the team etc.

      1. I agree that some times people overreact when it’s Ferrari but Austria 2002 was not one of those occasions. Everything about that race made a mockery of the sport. 6 races into the season and they used team orders when Schumacher already had a huge lead and was nailed on for the championship given the car dominance. There is also the manner in which the lead change happened on the final lap/corner too which left a sour taste in the mouth. Barichello played a blinder from a PR perspective for himself.

        Generally speaking though people always go on about Ferrari’s strategy and driver choices with a overly critical eye compared to other teams. Red Bull have done some really dumb strategy calls over the last 5 years but only ever got credit when their gambles paid off and very little criticism when they resulted in ruining races for their drivers.

  10. Mark in Florida
    25th July 2022, 0:01

    I’m so sick of Mattia pandering to the team strategy that makes sense only to a computer. Nobody except the drivers maybe seen able to read a race correctly. I’m not impressed by this group at Ferrari at all. I used to be amazed at what Ross did during a race. He most always seemed to come up with an answer to whatever came up in a race and dealt with it accordingly. I can’t say that about Ferrari now. Now I’m just mystified by the silly things that they do. So sad, they have the car and drivers but lack everything else.

    1. Indeed, I think this is a correct statement about the situation at ferrari, even sainz improved lately, although leclerc is still making way too many mistakes to compete with verstappen.

  11. Ferrari went wrong with Sainz at the safety car in bringing him in, was way too early for a switch to the mediums especially if having to come through traffic. Thought that during the race but even clearer now seen the highlights as he would taken 4th if not 3rd after everybody else’s stops. From there he could have taken the fight to those ahead and as the quicker if the Ferrari’s this weekend possibly made some passes. All the while creating a gap to pit in to to do it all again but this time on fresh mediums, think 3rd of not 2nd would have been up for grabs that way.

  12. The unsafe released added complications into a poor decision. Whoever was in change of that should be looking for another job on Monday. The fact that MB is talking about taking one point indicates how desperate the team have become.

  13. Ferrari really know how to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

  14. Well in hindsight, Ferrari didnt want Verstappen to extend his lead over Leclerc by an extra point so they sacrificed Sainz

    1. @kpcart Sainz already had the fastest lap point going to him, so same outcome either way.

  15. Maybe they were worried that with Sainz pushing, that the tyres wouldn’t hold out. Perhaps they saw pitting and getting a top 5 finish was better than a puncture and a double DNF. It’s a shame about the unsafe release as that 5 seconds penalty made the call much more difficult to make.

  16. I also think they should’ve stayed out, it seems like he was gaining, especially with perez battling with russell, and in the end he’s not fighting for the championship, there was nothing to lose, you start 19th, you are currently 3rd, try to make up those 5 seconds and finish the race, 5th is nothing special, just like leclerc in canada, except sainz at least had the chance to go for 3rd here as he managed to pit during the SC.

    1. He was only third if he could create a gap of 5 seconds, and if Ferrari believed that not to be the case due to tire wear…

      1. Perhaps let him try though? They had nothing to lose.

  17. Ferrari should not have pitted Sainz under the safety car, since he had hard tyres in his car.
    Doing so, for medium tyres, meant another stop later on.
    If Sainz had kept going, he could have changed onto the mediums when he was ready and (1) made one less pit stop and (2) not had an unsafe release (3) been much further up the road anyway.
    Another poor strategy, IMO.

    1. A bit of damned if you do, damned if you don’t: He would’ve been as fast as those that stopped, but the gap would’ve meant he probably be somewhere in the middle between Russel and Alonso before the stop. Say 15 seconds behind the leader. add 28 seconds for a very fast stop, then he would’ve regained the track in close to last position, with 25-20 laps to go. Yes he would’ve been super-fast trough the field, but by then the top 4 would’ve been out of reach…

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