Following Sunday's action packed British Grand Prix in Silverstone, in which Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took advantage of a late safety car to claim his maiden race victory, Ferrari’s race strategy has once again been called into question, with many suggesting poor calls from the pit wall cost Charles Leclerc yet another win.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner weighs in on the strategy blunder from the rival team, an error which benefitted Red Bull in a race where championship leader Max Verstappen was greatly disadvantaged by a wounded car. When asked if he was surprised Ferrari did not favour their lead driver Leclerc, a strategy which Red Bull have become infamous for applying, Horner notes: “Every team is different.”
“Everybody’s different aren’t they? Every team is different.” He said. “And I suppose the call that I understood least [from Ferrari] was to not pit both their cars [under safety car], or certainly Charles [Leclerc] for the soft tyre.”
Horner was also quizzed on the radio message in which Ferrari seemed to ask Carlos Sainz, on fresh soft tyres, to back away from his teammate who remained on old hard tyres, prior to the safety car restart.
Horner defended Sainz decision to overrule the call from the team, highlighting the massive tyre advantage which he had over his teammate.
“I think with the tyre advantage that Carlos [Sainz] had at that point, [Leclerc has] got what? Thirteen lap old hards versus a brand new set of softs. The delta is enormous. So I actually thought Charles did very well to hold off Checo [Perez] and Lewis [Hamilton] as long as he did.”
Horner also commented on how Hamilton, who was on a charge at his home Grand Prix, may have affected the decisions made by Ferrari, noting that pitting from the lead is a difficult decision to make.
He believed however, that even if Hamilton had elected to stay out and gain track position, both Ferrari’s would have been capable of re-passing the Mercedes with fresh soft tyres.
“It’s always difficult, because when you’re the tail car, you know, Lewis [Hamilton] has got a free stop so it’s a no brainer for him. I was actually surprised that Lewis with that amount of laps to go with the degradation that he’d shown here, didn’t take the soft. He went onto the hard tyre on lap 33.
“I actually thought he was gonna go onto the soft, because that would have made it much easier for him, with the offset in grip. So it felt like [Ferrari] had maybe been let off the hook there, but obviously he had a free stop [under safety car].
“When you’re the lead car it’s the hardest thing in the world to pit from the lead, but I think even if Lewis would have stayed out, with the tyre advantage of the soft, they [Ferrari] would have re-passed him.”