In the Eifel last Sunday, Charles Leclerc qualified extremely well (4th) and Sebastian Vettel was the first driver to have free choice of tires (11th). However, despite these promising starting positions, the Scuderia stagnated or retreated in the race: Charles Leclerc finished only 7th, and Sebastian Vettel just behind the points.
Iñaki Rueda, chief of racing strategy at Ferrari, tried to explain why Sunday was not up to Saturday. And first of all, tire concerns.
“The low temperatures mean that the softer of the three compounds is somewhat brittle due to graining, a phenomenon that occurs when you can't fit the tires within the ideal operating temperature window. Typically the track temperature is between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius, although Pirellis can operate very well up to 60C, which can sometimes be seen in Bahrain. It is quite unusual to see the 15 ° C we had in Germany. When the resistance limit of the tires is too high, blistering, blistering results, while if it is too low, the rubber rolls on the surface, giving the rider the impression of riding on a very slippery surface, such as the driving a road car in summer with snow tires, but this also accelerates tire wear. This is what happened to Charles at the Nürburgring yesterday, as well as at the Hungaroring last July, when he put on softs while the track was still wet. "
“Teams have several tools at their disposal, including choosing a setting that minimizes this risk, working on cooling the brakes and adapting the riding style to the situation. In Germany, several drivers suffered from graining, others not, as happened with Sebastian in the last stint on soft. As is often the case, it's about finding the right compromise. "
It was this wear and tear that affected Charles Leclerc from the start of the race.
“It was clear from the start that his pace was poor, not only compared to the top three but also to those behind him. He had managed to keep the advantage at the start, but on lap 9 he let Daniel Ricciardo pass because at that point the front tires were really bad. At this point it was too early to even consider making a single stop, which was our preferred strategy, but it was also a bit on the edge. We had to minimize the damage and take him to the next round to put on some other mediums. "
However, Charles Leclerc's end of the race was compromised by the choice not to stop under a safety car … Why did you imitate Romain Grosjean, and not all the other drivers in this respect?
“On the 44th lap, the race was neutralized and at that point we had the opportunity to put on another set of softs – tough ones were not an option and we had no more mediums – that would then have meant losing two positions. We spoke to Charles on the radio at that point and decided to stay on the track, given what we had seen in the first part of the race. "
As for Sebastian Vettel's race, it was another Stations of the Cross. Although starting in mediums, the German rider could not really get back into the peloton. Blame it on an overly aggressive one stop strategy, with a very long hard second stint. Sebastian Vettel was also guilty of another mistake …
“At first he lost a place to Antonio Giovinazzi who was on tender, but it immediately became apparent that Alfa Romeo was slower than Seb. Unfortunately, Sebastian lost control of his SF1000 under braking in turn 1 on lap 11 and damaged his left front tire. So he must have stopped much earlier than expected. We put him on the tough guys for a really long stint in the middle of the race and then we got on the tough ones on lap 41. For him, the effect of the neutralization was clear: he managed to overtake Nicholas Latifi and Kevin Magnussen in the last laps, but could not attack Giovinazzi again, to try to take at least a point for the tenth. square. "