Analysis: Why Ferrari didn’t go aggressive on strategy in their fight with Red Bull

2023 Italian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Once Carlos Sainz Jnr lost the lead on the 15th lap of the Italian Grand Prix, it was always unlikely Ferrari were going to be able to get it back.

There was one strategic option available to them once Max Verstappen found his way into the lead: Respond by pitting Sainz immediately. Then, depending on Red Bull’s next move, Ferrari had the luxury of covering him off with either of their cars.

But they chose not to go down that route. Team principal Frederic Vasseur said they couldn’t risk bringing him in so early, despite its length being cut to 51 laps due to the delayed start.

“We were all a bit worried with the the life of the hard [tyre],” said Vasseur. “We were a bit blind because we didn’t do a long stint before [in practice].

“It was also a risk to stop very early. We were all at the limit. I think Max the last couple of laps had some issue with the front-left also and we had not so much margin.”

Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Monza, 2023
Ferrari felt they couldn’t risk an early pit stop
Teams had less pre-race running than usual due to the Alternative Tyre Allocation being used this weekend, which meant they had fewer tyres available. On top of that, Sergio Perez spun his Red Bull late in second practice, disrupting all the teams’ long run preparation.

Sunday was the warmest day of the weekend and several drivers commented that tyre degradation felt on the high side. F1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli also brought softer compounds for this race than they used last year – as was also the case when the ATA was used previously in Hungary.

Given that, Sainz felt his one-stop strategy was “very tight and very on the limit” as it was. “It did feel high deg for me,” he said. “It did feel more like a two-stop than a one-stop.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“In the end we committed to one stop because that’s what our numbers suggested before the race. But honestly, I was probably five laps short in each of these things. The last four laps I did on the medium I did it with zero rubber left. And the last five laps, ten laps I did with the hard I did them with zero rubber left, that’s why I was sliding around so much.”

Monza, 2023
Poll: Vote for your 2023 Italian Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend
None of the drivers who ran two-stop strategies made it work. Liam Lawson was the highest-placed two-stopper in 12th (which became 11th after Oscar Piastri’s penalty).

Alpine, struggling dreadfully at Monza, split the strategies between their drivers, bringing Esteban Ocon in once and his team mate twice. But it didn’t pay off.

“We thought we’ll try something different on both cars and if a Safety Car comes in at any moment then either Esteban will benefit from it, or I will benefit from one at a later point,” said Pierre Gasly. “But, when you’re lacking so much performance like that you’ve just got to gamble, unfortunately there is no secret when you are competitive it always ends up pretty well, when you are not competitive it’s way harder.”

Alfa Romeo, also struggling for pace and uncertain about tyre life, made the same choice. It worked out better for them, as the one-stopping Valtteri Bottas picked up their first point since Canada.

“I think nobody had that much idea how the deg was going to be,” said Perez, joking: “I don’t know who brought the red flag there in the end on Friday…

“So nobody really did more than four laps, five laps and you don’t get to see what the tyre is going to do and also it was hotter today so I think it was a bit of a combination in the regard that the degradation was a little bit higher.”

Whether the combination of the ATA, the softer tyres and the disruption Perez caused ultimately contributed to a more exciting race will surely be scrutinised as F1 considers whether to commit to the format for more races in 2024.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Italian Grand Prix lap chart

The positions of each driver on every lap. Click name to highlight, right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Italian Grand Prix race chart

The gaps between each driver on every lap compared to the leader’s average lap time. Very large gaps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:

2023 Italian Grand Prix lap times

All the lap times by the drivers (in seconds, very slow laps excluded). Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and toggle drivers using the control below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Italian Grand Prix fastest laps

Each driver’s fastest lap:

Rank No. Driver Car Lap time Gap Average speed (kph) Lap no.
1 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1’25.072 245.14 43
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda RBPT 1’25.240 0.168 244.66 33
3 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’25.501 0.429 243.91 30
4 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda RBPT 1’25.522 0.450 243.85 39
5 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’25.580 0.508 243.69 38
6 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’25.582 0.510 243.68 29
7 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1’25.758 0.686 243.18 44
8 40 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1’25.842 0.770 242.94 44
9 63 George Russell Mercedes 1’25.847 0.775 242.93 38
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1’25.894 0.822 242.8 50
11 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’25.983 0.911 242.55 35
12 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’25.988 0.916 242.53 27
13 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’26.105 1.033 242.2 43
14 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’26.144 1.072 242.09 24
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’26.278 1.206 241.72 42
16 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes 1’26.389 1.317 241.41 33
17 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’26.617 1.545 240.77 31
18 2 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1’26.840 1.768 240.15 16
19 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’26.963 1.891 239.81 33

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Italian Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Italian Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Rank No. Driver Team Complete stop time (s) Gap to best (s) Stop no. Lap no.
1 4 Lando Norris McLaren 23.727 1 22
2 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 23.819 0.092 1 21
3 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 23.931 0.204 1 20
4 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 24.133 0.406 1 23
5 40 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 24.212 0.485 1 13
6 63 George Russell Mercedes 24.215 0.488 1 19
7 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 24.228 0.501 1 20
8 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 24.249 0.522 1 24
9 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 24.255 0.528 1 27
10 40 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 24.281 0.554 2 33
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 24.328 0.601 2 39
12 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 24.396 0.669 1 11
13 23 Alexander Albon Williams 24.538 0.811 1 15
14 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 24.658 0.931 1 25
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 24.66 0.933 1 12
16 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 24.686 0.959 2 31
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 24.765 1.038 2 33
18 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 24.779 1.052 1 14
19 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 24.798 1.071 1 21
20 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 25.183 1.456 1 19
21 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 25.667 1.94 1 20
22 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 25.959 2.232 2 33
23 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 26.095 2.368 1 14
24 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 27.376 3.649 1 10
25 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 31.799 8.072 2 41

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing 1 per month or 12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

2023 Italian Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Italian 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...

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

8 comments on “Analysis: Why Ferrari didn’t go aggressive on strategy in their fight with Red Bull”

  1. Risk of what? They are trying to win Monza as Ferrari. Not win a title. Should have at pit immediately. Even if sainz got stuck behind Alonso for a couple laps given their top speed advantage that would have given them a shot at an undercut.

    1. @dmw In fact, with 15 laps with no tyre rubber, Sainz would arguably have been better off outright going for a two-stopper than a one-stopper.

  2. Each time it makes less sense to have three tire choices.
    Apparently the harder or the softer options are never a good choice.
    As races become some sort of track position and PU management exercise, softs almost always mean an additional pitstops, which seems verboten and proscribed even before the lores tart moving from the previous race.
    And if hards are appropriate for a given car, that means that strategy is not focused into pushing a short stint on softs.
    From a sustainability perspective, that would make more sense that the ATA.

    1. I feel that 3 choices are fine even though during any given race, only 2 of the choices work best. It adds to the strategy decisions of which tires to use during practice and qualifying.

  3. They should increase length of all races by 60%. Then we could see a variety of strategies unfolding and a lot of overtakes.

    1. Sounds good in theory, but there are some logistical issues to consider. Pirelli would either have to make the tyres more durable, negating the strategy options you mentioned, or bring more sets of tyres to each weekend which would impact costs and sustainability that they are trying to prioritise in recent years. They would also need to increase the fuel limit by at least 60%, probably more because the fuel tanks would be bigger, making the cars even bigger and heavier than they are now. I don’t see them doing this with the current objectives and goals or F1.

      I do feel that some races, especially Monza are too short in terms of duration, which has come down to only 1 hour 15 mins of green flag running as the pace of the cars has increased, but there is not an easy solution without significantly altering the technical regulations.

  4. Verstappen probably would’ve won the race no matter what, but still this seems like a wasted opportunity for Ferrari. This was most likely their best chance to win a race for the rest of the season and they decided to put both drivers on the same strategy that all but ensured Verstappen’s victory. At least splitting strategies would have put some pressure on Red Bull.

    What would have been the risk in splitting strategies exactly? They had a guaranteed podium with one of the cars in any case. The worst scenario was that the other car would’ve been fifth instead of fourth.

  5. Well I think Ferrari probably did the right thing. It’s highly unlikely with any strategy that they would have caught Verstappen. Or if they did it would not have been for very long. If one of their drivers had tried a two stop I still think the chances are that this car would have finished lower i.e. 5th or 6th. So 3rd/4th was probably the best they could do on this circuit with the ATA in place.

Comments are closed.