Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2022

Why Red Bull believe they could have won in France even without Leclerc’s crash

2022 French Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Red Bull believe Max Verstappen’s straight-line speed advantage at Paul Ricard would have helped him win even if Charles Leclerc hadn’t crashed out.

Leclerc led every lap of the race until he went into a barrier on lap 18. Verstappen, who had chased him hard over the opening laps, had already made his first pit stop by that point.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said they went into the race expecting they would have to make two pit stops. However the tyre degradation proved less severe than predicted.

“The tyre deg was better than we expected going into the race, to be honest,” he told media including RaceFans. “Going into the race we were more leaning towards two [stops], as the race unfolded we started to move more towards the one-stop.”

Within his first lap of coming out of the pits, Verstappen drew close enough to Leclerc that the Ferrari driver would fall behind him when he pitted.

“We decided that on lap 15, we saw a little bit of track space that we could drop Max into, pulled the trigger, by halfway around the lap he had track position [over Leclerc]. So from that point it was just a matter of bringing the tyres in nicely and then the following lap obviously Charles crashed.”

Leclerc’s crash meant the contest between the pair which would have unfolded never occured. However Horner is confident that Verstappen’s superior speed on the straight would have been enough to contain the Ferrari.

“It was interesting because Max was able to stay much closer to Charles for a long period of time without the tyre getting stratospherically hot,” he said. “We were, as we’ve seen in the rest of the weekend, very quick in sector two, similar in one and a bit slower in three, which is mainly turn 11 here.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“But the race was running okay, he was going with him in the DRS. Unfortunately we couldn’t get close enough through six onto the straight to really capitalise on the DRS. So therefore that’s why we banked the track position.”

Had Leclerc pitted and come out behind Verstappen, Horner believes “we’d have been able to defend reasonably comfortably with the speed that we had in sector two.”

“Again, you can see it’s very, very tight between the two teams with a very different approach to achieving the lap time here,” he added.

However Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto pointed out their car was treating its tyres better than the pursuing Red Bull, and believes they were in a competitive position before Leclerc’s crash.

“I think, again, it has been a good weekend in terms of pace,” he said. “The car has proved to be very competitive. I think that Carlos [Sainz Jnr’s] race as well showed that.

“Charles got the pole, he was leading the race. I think we had an edge on the Red Bull in terms of tyre degradation. By lap 15 Max had to stop, we could have extended the stint and we were extending the stint.

“I think at the time when Max stopped, when he was starting to suffer from tyre degradations, Charles was gaining two or three tenths per lap on him. So proving once again that our car is great, gentle tyre management, the drivers as well are doing the proper job.

“We come out from here, Le Castellet, with full confidence in our package, in our drivers’ capacity and our speed.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 French Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 French Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

24 comments on “Why Red Bull believe they could have won in France even without Leclerc’s crash”

  1. All fine, I suppose, except that the highest temperature in the stratosphere is -15C. Not sure you want your tyres that hot :)

  2. Nog dure that Max stopt for tyres due weer but that They were thinking of a 2 stop and the Outlap was fast forcing Charles to the maximum of his car and that possible causeur his mistake. On the hard Red Bull was faster even more then on the medium.

    1. Nog Dure = Not Sure

      I think it’s the racepace of the different tyres the difference Charles – Max is faster on hards compaired on the mediums.

      1. Was recently watching a video about letters of the alphabet that no longer are in use by the English language and did wonder if you were a traveller from those times.

        1. While i am from those times i keep it a bit moderner as old Dutch is simulair to old English. My mind is so old and sometimes my body feels that old!

  3. Binotto “thinking” they had better tyre deg is very telling…everyone else seems to suggest otherwise and the massive blister on Lec’s front tyre speaks for itself. Max was in DRS range most of the stint, ofcourse he’ll be using more of his tyres…they chose strayegy and not pitting due to tyre deg.

    1. I mean, it’s mostly smoke and mirrors in these team manager interviews, which is fair game to them. I think with track position, Max would have been very hard to overtake for Charles, so even if he were to catch up, by the time he did so with the wear he would have had by then, I don’t think it was in the cards for them to get by the Red Bull.

      1. But you forgot the undercut Max was already passing Charles and then Charles had to overtake Max.

  4. Maybe? The pit delta was 28 seconds. If Ferrari could do one stop they would win. Sainz pace on worn mediums says they would have had the pace to make it work.

    1. But Charles would be on the Hards like Max ….. and Max was already 27.3 seconds behind Charles so Charles (with a fast pitstop would slot behind Max).

  5. Perez couldn’t get close enough to Hamilton to threaten a pass, and after Russell passed him, Perez never got close to Russell either, so I don’t really see any evidence that Max would have done better in a straight fight with the faster Ferrari. However, I can quite easily believe Max would have won it with an undercut, as Red Bull seem to be the most astute team strategy-wise.

    1. Perez couldn’t catch Ham and eventually fell back. Max in the same car was pulling away from Ham, even when Max couldn’t go faster because he had Lec in front of him. Therefore comparing Max and Perez to understand the pace of RB is very flawed.

      1. Ivan, no, I was looking at it the other way round. We had nothing to compare Max with. In the few laps where he was within striking range of LeClerc, he didn’t do anything to make me think it was just a matter of time. Looking at the other Red Bull, if Perez had sailed past Russell or Hamilton then we’d have been able to say the Red Bull was clearly a very fast car on the day, but that didn’t happen, so there was no evidence either way. As I said, I could easily believe Max would have won due to better pit calls, but from what we saw on track, I couldn’t see any evidence to support Horner’s claim that Max would have been able to pass the Ferrari on the road.

        1. Horner doesn’t claim anywhere they would’ve passed the Ferrari on the road though? Or am I missing something here?

          He says the undercut was already a fact so Max had effectively gained track position on Leclerc if he would’ve come in, and he is stating they would’ve been able to defend that position against Charles.

          1. Verstappen would have needed to have stop again. Leclerc would not have.

          2. Matt, sorry, you are right, it was me who was missing something. I’d misunderstood the article and thought Horner was talking about superior speed for passing. It makes more sense now.

          3. @dang note that he’s also saying they were leaning more towards a one-stopper… So he might effectively have gone for just the one stop.

            @AlanD hey, no need to apologize!

          4. @dang – Red Bull thought they went for a 2 stop but changed their mind when they discovered their tyre wear was minimal so Max needed only 1 stop which they did.

  6. I thought Ferrari was faster on the straightline speed this round with the DRS activated, Sainz was doing 344kph while Verstappen and Perez both 336-337kph. We have never seen Leclerc used DRS during the race because he was leading, so if let’s say Verstappen managed get ahead of Leclerc, with the DRS assists perhaps Leclerc could breeze past Verstappen on the straight again…

    1. Papaya, I think I heard the commentators before the race saying Ferrari should be worried about DRS passes because the Red Bulls were showing better straight-line speeds at this track, which surprised me. During the race, DRS didn’t seem to be a factor. In the few laps where Max had DRS behind LeClerc, it didn’t help him that much. Sainz came up the field pretty quickly, but in the passes I can remember seeing, they were not DRS passes. Maybe DRS was letting Carlos keep close to the car in front so that he could make the pass in parts where the Ferrari grip better. Shame we didn’t get to see what the Ferrari could do when it was on the tail of a Red Bull.

      1. Perez and to a lesser extent Verstappen were getting gapped in the two slow sections. It seemed they were not able to really get under a wing coming into the straight. But still, they were doing 339 in practice—-I’m amazed Perez didn’t just blow by Hamilton.

    2. The Red Bulls were quicker in a straight line without DRS, but the gap was smaller with DRS. I’m guessing because Ferrari run a bigger rear wing than Red Bull, so when the DRS is open it minimises that difference between the cars.

      I checked the telemetry for a couple of laps early in the race when both Max and Carlos had DRS available (laps 8 and 10). On lap 8 Max topped out at 338 and Carlos 339. On lap 10 Max was 336 and Carlos 344. I haven’t gone back and checked what happened on those laps, but Max was right behind Leclerc so his situation was pretty consistent. Carlos was passing cars so I’m guessing the 344 was a lap when he got right up to someone’s gearbox for an overtake. Also when comparing Sainz and Leclerc’s Q2 laps, where neither got a tow, they both got 333 so they were running the same drag level.

      That all suggests that if Ferrari could keep Leclerc out for a few more laps and build up an offset (big if considering the blister he had on his front right) he may have had a decent chance at Max with the DRS.

  7. So Horner is straight out saying it’s the car, not Max&*. Max* doesn’t cause the straight-line speed advantage.

    1. No driver can make a cars straight line faster than it is capable of, they can only maximise it by getting better drive out of corners ETC! If it was just the car then Sergio and Max would have been in the same space at the same time. Lap times include corners, how you enter and exit corners and therefore what top speed you achieve in a straight line based on the cars capability and what chance the driver gave it to reach its capability.

Comments are closed.