Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2022

Ferrari claim they used a “dummy” pit stop for Leclerc to outfox Red Bull

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says a “dummy” pit stop was the key to getting Charles Leclerc ahead of Sergio Perez in yesterday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Leclerc jumped ahead of his rival to finish second in the race – and clinched the same position in the championship – by making one fewer pit stop than his rival. Binotto says Ferrari prompted Red Bull’s second pit stop by making as if they were preparing to bring Leclerc in.

Perez was running in second place ahead of Leclerc when he made his first pit stop on lap 15. Leclerc extended his first stint six laps longer, and was closing on Perez again as the race passed the half-distance mark.

At that point Ferrari sent their crew into the pit lane and told Leclerc to “box opposite Perez” – i.e., only come into the pits if he does not. Perez did come in, and so Leclerc stayed out.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2022
Leclerc only came in once, but Ferrari prepared for a second stop
Leclerc never made a second pit stop. Perez closed on him in the final laps but fell 1.3 seconds short of catching the Ferrari driver.

Ferrari’s pit strategies have been criticised earlier in the season, and Binotto praised the work done by the team in Abu Dhabi. “Certainly we did the proper job,” he told media including RaceFans on Sunday.

“A dummy pit stop on Red Bull was the right call and I think that overall we made it right,” he said. “So I’m happy for them, happy for the team.

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“I think that when Ferrari is making mistakes there is always a lot of criticism but as well I know that these guys can do very well.”

It was a close call whether one or two pit stops was the best strategy for the race, said Binotto. While Leclerc pitted once, Carlos Sainz Jnr made two stops.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Yas Marina, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in pictures
“It was a very difficult weekend for tyre degradation and tyre management,” Binotto explained. “Not only for us, it has been the case for other drivers and it has been the case certainly for Mercedes or Checo.

“Pushing too hard on the first laps, the risk was to destroy the tyres. So in order to manage it well through the entire stint you have to be very careful at the start. Not only [that], you needed a very good balance of the car itself.

“If I look at ourselves, what we did is during the weekend, starting from Friday, to put some more effort, some more laps on high-fuel runs, on the race simulations, to make sure that we had the right balance for today. And I think that then today, later in the race, the balance of the car, the drivers’ capability has made the difference overall in terms of stint pace and overall race distance speed.

“So well done to Charles because he did very well. Carlos had a bit more difficulty as we obviously debrief with him later on, I think it’s more down to the car balance itself, but something we need to understand with him as well.”

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Ferrari remained “flexible” with the strategies for their two drivers “because we knew it would have been in between the one and the two,” said Binotto. “And the difference would have been the capacity of saving tyres or not, depending on how much you would have been under pressure and the drivers themselves in terms of driving.

Race start, Yas Marina, 2022
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“Charles had a bit more margin on the cars behind and could save more the tyres which gave him the benefit to go for the one-stop, while Carlos had been under pressure at the very start of the race with the Mercedes and we had to switch to the two [stop].

“So it was great to see that the team was very flexible, choosing one on one driver, two on the second, to optimise the race result. And I think that certainly the dummy call on the Red Bull was a fantastic call from the pit.”

However Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Perez was always going to have to make a second tyre change, and coming in when he did covered off Leclerc attacking him with an early pit stop for fresher rubber.

“It was all about the front right tyres just graining and opening up and at that point was dying. You saw then Charles closing and so basically they called to pit to do the opposite to Checo.

“We banked the stop, but that then exposed him massively at the end of the stint. So we felt that, as I say, rather than sort of die at the end of it and be a sitting duck, we’d take an attacking strategy.”

During his second stint Perez complained he was losing time behind Max Verstappen at one stage, and he had to overtake Lewis Hamilton plus some backmarkers as he pursued Leclerc afterwards.

“Maybe if he did manage to make it past Hamilton – ifs, buts and maybes – there’s a couple of backmarkers that didn’t help, but it was so, so close,” said Horner.

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2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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...

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19 comments on “Ferrari claim they used a “dummy” pit stop for Leclerc to outfox Red Bull”

  1. I thought it was illegal to send out the pit crew for a fake pitstop?

    1. They are but it’s a massive grey area. They said to do the opposite to Perez so technically, they were planning to do a stop and were therefore allowed out in the pit lane. They’ll simply argue that if Perez had stayed out, they’d have pitted – you’re allowed to change your mind. We’ve seen teams do it countless times.

      If they’d gone out with no intention of pitting regardless of whether Perez came in or not, then it’s illegal but how do you prove that’s the case? “Box opposite Perez” could be a code to mean you’re not pitting whatever happens but we’re trying to trick the other driver…

      1. I mean, yeah, it was a grey area until they admitted it was a dummy, right? A dummy can only be explained one way in my opinion. No more grey area after you spill those beans.

  2. Dummy pit stops are technically illegal, so this is a weird admission to make.

    1. Exactly. And another stupid thing that has been done by Binotto. Would be hilarious if they gave Leclerc a 5 second penalty post race based on this admission. Charles deserves better than this bozo of a team principal he has.

      1. Binotto is just trying to seem clever and wants the world to know after an entire season of really bad calls.

        Reply moderated
  3. At that point Ferrari sent their crew into the pit lane and told Leclerc to “box opposite Perez” – i.e., only come into the pits if he does not. Perez did come in, and so Leclerc stayed out.

    But what would have happened when Perez did not come in, what would have happened to Leclerc? It can only be a dummy pitstop if they decided not to stop anyway before Perez pitted, not when you decide to change your strategy after Perez pitting.

    1. Exactly, this is a very strange declaration. For it to be a real dummy pit stop, there would have to be some code that told Leclerc that “Box opposite Perez” was to be ignored. It sounds like Binotto is bragging about getting one over Red Bull while they didn’t, moreover while doing so would be against the rules. Are the egos so fragile in Ferrari’s strategy team ?

  4. They are so proud of their little trick. Yeah, Red Bull can have it all but Charles is 2nd! Live with that Red Bull!!

  5. Can’t you just shut the …. up, Mattia? Fine if you did it and it came out right. But you are doing yourself no favors explaining it.

    1. I know right?? Leclerc deserves so much better than this clown. Can you imagine if Horner ran Ferrari?

      Reply moderated
  6. I think there was also some karma for Perez from Hamilton for last year. I doubt Hamilton would have fought so hard to hold him up if he hadn’t done so to him so badly last year. In terms of it being some master stroke by Ferrari, I think they just got lucky Perez was so slow relatively speaking and that Red Bull actually pulled the trigger for them otherwise they’d have likely been stuck with that slower strategy.

    1. The karma came.. hydraulic defect as a result of his illegal move on Sainz and jumping over curve twice.

      Reply moderated
    2. the newer tyres were never that faster for it to be a given.
      Max came from his pitstop just ahead of Perez, and Perez kept with him for a long time before his tyres dropped off.

      Leclerc and Verstappen just seem to work the tyres that much better than their team mates. For them, it wasn’t the slower strategy.

      1. I see this as a weird way to give the strategists and pitwall staff the credit and to come out as they had merit of it….altough its not fully legal

  7. Can we talk for a moment about how Ferrari got their strategy right for once? After all the criticism they have been receiving, they got 2nd for Charles by pulling off the one thing they were not known for.

    1. They arguably got lucky to win with the wrong strategy: 2-stop was faster. If Perez wasn’t held up as much, we would all be here saying how it was a terrible choice to go for the 1-stop and the whole field knew it except Ferrari. What is and what isn’t the right strategy is not determined by the eventual outcome. It was a weak choice but it panned out for them.

    2. You’re absolutely right @johnbeak, but it seems – looking at the comments – that Ferrari fans are ungrateful when they should be celebrating. The leap from 2021 is huge and bods very well for 2023.

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